Volume 2 of Preaching God’s Transforming Justice Year C is being released today. It is a commentary which focuses on the social justice issues within scripture. Here is a short excerpt of my contribution [Proper 13(18)] to this commentary.
The selection of passages for this week reminds us of our temporality here on earth as all the trappings of our privilege—wealth, status, heritage, and prestige—will pass away. When we leave this earth, we certainly cannot take anything with us, which reminds us that all of humanity, both the poor and rich are ultimately the same. We need to be reminded that God’s graciousness falls on everyone.
The passages force the rich to give up greed and possess gratitude—to reexamine our lifestyles and change them for the sake of those who are hungry and naked. We are urged to make changes and to share our wealth. God calls for us to repent from the sins committed against our neighbors, even those sins of neglect. These texts warn us not to be so vain, but to serve others and serve God, to seek heavenly things rather than material wealth. In fact, all the wealth we accumulate could be dangerous as it leads us away from God, but the full life is one that is lived gratefully to God.
Hosea lived in troubled and chaotic times. Great political and social instability followed the forty-year reign of Jeroboam II as King of Israel. Hosea found the entire leadership of Israel and the people guilty of both apostasy and spiritual degeneration. However, even in the midst of disobedience, sinfulness, and idolatry, God did not turn away from them and showed the endurance of God’s steadfast love.
This passage becomes a magnificent poetry of YHWH’s dialogue with God’s self. The whole passage is about what God has done, Ephraim’s response, and God’s unwilling but necessary action. This is followed by God’s ultimate restoration of undisciplined Ephraim in the homecoming. It poetically describes humanity’s waywardness and God’s faithfulness.
We, like Ephraim, run away from God to faithless idolatry. We disobey God and create our own idols such as consumerism, which has become the new religion. The malls and online consumer websites have become the temples to which we faithfully take our tithes/offering. The ways we have sought to proselytize others is not by invitation but by consumption. Most of us know firsthand the temptation to exploit the vulnerability of other people, and even more so, the earth. Our ways of consumption impact people and nature. The exploited earth cannot speak to us, but it does confront us with devastating effects. As consumerism continues to be the new religion, we need to take heed of our future as well as the earth’s dire situation.
Due to consumerism, globalization, and colonialism, atrocities continue to occur regularly. The exploited people and the raped earth speak out in painful groans. Injustice exists as long as we ignore the unethical practices of the rich in relationships with the poor. Amazon Link