Think Grace

Materialism_and_misery

There is another lesson in the Epistle and Gospel Readings for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 9, Year B). In 2 Corinthians 12: 2-10 Paul talks about power in weakness when he writes, “for power is made perfect in weakness” (verse 9). In his prayer to have the “thorn in the flesh” removed, the Lord reminded him that his grace was all-sufficient.

Excess, especially in material possessions – what is included in the term “materialism” – can prevent one from realizing and appreciating the grace that is available.

In the second part of the Gospel Reading (Mark 6: 1-13) Jesus instructs his disciples “to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics”. Why is that?

Jesus foresaw the dangers of scarcity thinking – a mindset of scarcity, if you like. It is true that every additional item acquired creates a longing for another one. It is equally true that it is easier to acquire and accumulate that to discard. The last time you moved you probably realized how much stuff you had accumulated, some you probably never used (or needed).

In this Gospel Jesus was instructing his disciples to focus on what they needed, the basic necessities; not only that but to live a life of sharing. “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” In other words, he was encouraging them to be content with what was available – and often, what is available is all-sufficient. It is the mindset of scarcity, of not enough, that creates the need to hoard and accumulate.

Indeed, this is the spirit of economics of compassion where we recognize that there is enough – abundance – of everything to go around. The opposite, the mindset that there is not enough, leads to nightmares (like the pharaoh’s in Joseph’s time) and in our time that leads to panic, over-production, exploitation and waste.

Can you see God’s grace in everything?

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