The neediest people
In the Book of Deuteronomy (15:4) it says that “there should be no poor among you”. Jesus says, “the poor you will have always with you” (Mark 14:7).
The Scottish artist Joan Eardley (1921-1963), painted these wonderful paintings of street urchins from some of the less salubrious areas of Glasgow. They are fabulous but the squalor in which those people lived could have been from any city, Liverpool, Bristol, the East End of London.
Joan wasn’t just depicting what she saw but also looking to rouse people’s conscience and raising awareness before it was fashionable to raise awareness. Those streets that she depicted may have been cleared up, but the poor are still there, and they are still here, we just sometimes choose not to see them.
We end up being bombarded in the media by events at our airports, at our ferry terminals, by who is going to be our next Prime Minister. There are so many different things that can take our attention and, if we are not careful, we can risk anaesthetising our hearts, as well as totally eclipsing the Good News that is contained in the Gospels.
“The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel”. (Isaiah 29:19).
Readings for this Sunday 31st July
Ecclesiastes 1.2,12-14; 2.18-23
Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,
vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
I, the Teacher, when king over Israel in Jerusalem, applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun; and see, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.
I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me —and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity. So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labours under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.
Luke 12: 13-21
Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’
Readings for this week
Monday 1st August – Jeremiah 28, Matthew 14:13-end
Tuesday 2nd – Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22, Matthew 15 1-2, 10-14
Wednesday 3rd – Jeremiah 31:1-7, Matthew 15: 21-28
Thursday 4th – Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Matthew 16:13-23
Friday 5th (Oswald, King and Martyr) – Psalm 137: 1-6, Matthew 16:24-28
Saturday 6th (Transfiguration of our Lord) – 2 Peter 1:16-19, Luke 9: 28-36