3 August. Proverbs chapters 24-26
From today’s reading I will take one saying found in 24:10-12:
“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength being small; if you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter; if you say, ‘Look, we did not know this’—does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?”
In this interconnected world of ours, we have no excuse these days of “we did not know this”. Every day our screens show us some of the worst things that are happening in the world, whether it is a ‘natural’ famine or flood (which is probably exacerbated by human-induced climate change anyway), or wars or terrorism, or political decisions such as oppression of minorities. For every one brought to us by the BBC or Facebook, there are many more that we can find out about easily, if we want to, through the humanitarian agencies who do their bit to alleviate human suffering.
But in the words of Harari, “there are no longer any natural famines, only political ones”. In other words, humanity has the power to feed the world, to virtually eradicate most diseases, to put down weapons and invest in peace. It is only the sin of human pride that spends money instead on armaments and vanity projects.
It is not only at a national level that this applies. St Paul was quoting Proverbs 25:21-22 when he wrote to the Romans “If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads.” If it is no excuse to say “we did not know”, it is also no excuse to say of those suffering close to home “they are not ours”. For we are all God’s children, and whatever we have is given to us to help others.