A Psalm For Today, The 49th, Part 2

The Judeo-Christian tradition has consistently preached against the reliance on wealth. And yes, our “Christian” nation exalts it more and more in some quarters. Even in what appear to be religious circles.

The Psalmist rightly identifies one major source of bullies: the rich upper crust of society:

5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?

Many Americans fret about our leadership. People seem able to buy into it. In fact, it seems rather difficult to get into leadership without ample cash resources. Alarmingly, a lot of people exit political life either with money or the promise of making more of it.

Ordinary citizens perceive persecution from such leaders, federal or local. Who can deny it? Competent people lose their jobs at the whim of bosses. Sick people go bankrupt and are even sent to prison for it. Business folk sell things, then renege on deals, leaving others to pay for it. Rich people make big messes and lift no hand to clean things up. Maybe a body takes solace that in the afterlife, these sins will be punished and wrongs might eventually be righted. The cry to heaven still needs to be executed.

The Psalmist seems to suggest that we shouldn’t aspire to wealth:

7 Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
there is no price one can give to God for it.
8 For the ransom of life is costly,
and can never suffice,
9 that one should live on for ever
and never see the grave. (NRSV)

A Christian culture, either nationwide or in its own communities, would do very well indeed to reject certain secular-friendly principles: the prosperity gospel, money or the lack of it as evidence of karma, the placement of wealthy persons on pedestals (or plaques). Life is a higher good. Especially life well-lived in service to others.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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