Paradox is a fascinating aspect of reality and a deeply moving aspect of the soul. Some of Jesus' most famous teachings are beatitudes in The Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5. Take just a minute to read them again.
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Paradox by paradox, we are inspired to greater and greater heights. And it didn't stop there. Christ is the master, but assumed the role of servant and washed his disciples' feet. Christ is the creator, but submitted to trial by the creation. Christ is the way, but he allowed himself to be taken down a path of destruction for us. Christ is the truth, but he let our lies betray him. Christ is the life, but he gave it on the cross for us. Christ was dead, but He is risen. He is risen, indeed!
We cannot be Christ. He alone was perfect. We can strive to be the Christians that Christ calls us to be, though. In our failures we come to understand God's perfection. In our weakness, God's strength. Glimpsing the wonder of paradox, St. Francis was inspired to write this prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Here we find paradox upon paradox upon paradox--and they are inspirational!
Much of the world is driven by capitalism. Don't get me wrong. Buying and selling are fine. Making a profit is good. Consider Christ's parable of the talents. The servant that merely held the master's wealth was cast out. Those that used the master's wealth to serve the master were praised.
So let's put a little bit of capitalism to work. Supply and demand. So often we look on these terms as tools to gain wealth for ourselves. But let's look at them as tools for ministry. What does the world need? It needs love. Who has the supply? God does. Where is the supply chain? That would be us. Perhaps it is another paradox. When we deliver God's love to others, we experience God's love more fully. It fills us with joy.
The nature of God's love is to give and to nurture. We can supply the blessings of God's love to others because God blesses us with love first! How can we live this? There are lots of ways.
People around the world, including our own communities and places far away, are hungry. Let's feed them.
People around the world need clothes. Let's clothe them.
People around the world are sick. Let's heal them. This is actually the one that triggered this thought today. You see, there is a silly political struggle going on in the United States right now. Leaders on one side of the issue want people to get jobs so they can pay for their own care. Leaders on the other want to create a national health insurance program that will pay. The insanity lies in the fact that the issue has nothing to do with money. The issue is sick people who need care. How much does it actually cost to care for someone? I can tell you that people with insurance don't have a clue! They don't pay the price, so they don't know the price.
If we want to see people receive care, there have to be more care givers and more care facilities. Supply and demand now takes on a more conventional, tangible aspect. If there are more care givers and more care facilities, the supply of health care goes up and the cost of health care goes down.
Rather than ignoring the problem and telling people to work and take care of themselves, let's put some money to work providing more health care. Rather than finding a new funding source that can pay more money to doctors and hospitals and drug manufacturers, let's train more doctors, build more hospitals, and let some "healthy" competition push the prices down for prescription drugs. When Christ spoke with the Pharisees, he didn't say that sick people need more insurance. He said that sick people need doctors.
Give people what they need. Give God's love generously. Give food generously. Give clothes generously. Give care generously. In giving love, we receive it. In giving food, our hunger is satisfied. In giving clothes, we are covered in blessings. In giving care, we are made well ourselves.
It isn't about money. Don't be fooled by money. Just be Christian.
God bless you--