Have you noticed as I have, that most of those persons debating the great economic issues of this nation self-identify as "Christian"? Do you think it interestingly strange that the Gospel is never a serious reference point in their public conversations? How is it that "faith" is so important to the American electorate and politician -- and yet "faith" is seldom thought of as a call to action (except for those who have prioritized the right to life of the unborn -- and only in regards to the unborn)? And why has the person, Yeshua the Poet of Nazareth, been marginalized in the experience of the common christian life?
Imagine, if you will, that you are hearing the words of the Poet for the very first time today: "Welcome home! Welcome home you who have learned the poverty of justice -- Paradise is yours! Welcome home you who follow the path of harmlessness -- the entire earth will one day revere you! Welcome home! Welcome home you who have been battered and bruised by life and yet have held firm in hope and good humor! Welcome home all of you who have sacrificed for building justice and community -- you will see justice flow like rivers through the heavens! Welcome home you who have learned the beauty, power, and necessity of forgiveness -- forgiveness and mercy shall flow over your heads like waves of wild honey! Welcome home! Welcome home you who have learned to love the love within and beyond every love -- you shall know the embrace of the Holy One! Welcome home you who have made peace with your thoughts, words, and actions -- you will be known as the Mirrors of God! Welcome home all who have entered the whirlwind of history to build justice, peace, community, and equality amongst all peoples and all creation -- yours is the surety of a joyous Homecoming!" [excerpted from The Ragged-Man's Gospel, by Robert Smith]
Imagine how much different our economic discussions would be if our political and economic (and spiritual) leaders were informing their debates with the wisdom of the saints (here is a very small sample):
"All things belong to God, who is our Father and the Father of all things. we are all of the same family; all of us are brothers. And amongst brothers it is best and most equal that all inherit equal portions." -- St. Gregory of Nyssa
"The rich take what belongs to everyone, and claim they have the right to own it, to monopolize it." -- St. Basil
"Property is theft." -- St. Basil
"The price of the kingdom is the food you give to those who need it." -- St. Leo the Great
"Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead." -- St. John Chrysostom
"The Holy Spirit is present completely in every human person. He is everywhere whole, and shared without being divided. According to what we can give as human beings, we participate in the Spirit." -- St. Basil
Imagine how very much different our nation, and this entire world, would be if christans lived their faith as a "Holy Competition" with Yeshua: who could love more? Who could better weave justice and equality and beauty and harmlessness into the fabric of human community and civilization? Who could actually begin a new chapter in the story of human history: a chapter of universal kindness and gentleness: of welcome home for everyone, every creature, and everything: upon this incredible, beautiful, precious blue Planet? When christians of the future that I can imagine speak of taxes -- and every other aspect of economics -- their opinions will be fully informed by a living faith that has been transformed by an activated compassion and an inspired imagination: let the "Holy Competition" begin!
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.