Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations. –Isaiah 61:1-4
More and more I find myself, like Isaiah in this scripture, thinking recovery from disaster rather than preventing disaster. While I do continue to work, hope, and pray for the avoidance of catastrophe, all our avoidance work seems fruitless. Isaiah was writing after the fall of Judah and the Israelites’ living in exile and returning to rebuild Jerusalem.
My pessimism probably proceeds from having been here before, more than once. I was born after the Great Depression, but it illustrates the pattern: greed that leads to cutting taxes resulting in depression/recession* followed by war. I worked for the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services in the 80’s when the USA initiated the trickle-down theory again resulting in a recession followed by the Gulf War. In 2000, we cut taxes again. The 9/11 attack happened in 2001 that sent us into a war we are still fighting and led to a recession that was very close to a depression. In these last two instances, our public assistance caseloads shot out the roof while our resources markedly declined. One of the USA’s greatest sins is paying our soldiers so poorly many of their families must depend on food stamps while millions of taxpayer dollars are funneled off to private war contractors who make huge profits from our folly.
We stand on the precipice of this cycle once more. Enacting massive tax cuts while already awash in debt as we spar with North Korea who now says war is inevitable and we stir animosity in the Middle East. We need to listen to the prophets of old, repent of our greed and lust for power, and learn to live within our means while we protect the Common Good particularly for the least of these.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for being blinded by the world’s temptations. Write your ways on our hearts and enable our climbing out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. Amen.