August 9, 2013
In this morning’s paper there was yet another columnist talking about how the birth of Prince George, now third in line to the throne, has offered a welcome bit of good news in a summer of many natural disasters, economic woes, etc.
I have to admit, I am one of those who followed the news of the impending royal birth with interest, and was excited by the news of the tiny prince’s arrival, and those first images of him with his proud young parents. They are so like anyone else…and yet not. He has been born to a life of such privilege, without many of the uncertainties that the rest of humanity faces in life. At the same time, with all that he can take for granted, a quick review of the rest of that family in the past couple of generations reminds us that happiness is not one of the things that he will be able to take for granted.
The same week that we were oohing and aahing over those first photos of our future king, I was talking to my cousin who has worked for the past thirty years or so helping people who find themselves on the edges of society in Toronto. My cousin is one who we can all turn to in times of need, but she doesn’t limit her care to our family or to her own friends. That week she was working with a family with a young infant who needed a place to live. Finances were part of their struggle to find a home, but there were other issues too. Without knowing any details, I can just call them struggles in relating to society generally. And here was this infant, a sweet and happy child, as unaware of the challenges of its circumstances as the young prince was of the privileges of his.
Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.” It’s a phrase that many of us have struggled with over the years. I hear in it that our work is never done, there are always people in need. We work towards the Kingdom, where all will have enough, not just materially but in all ways, and yet in our life spans, that work is never done. Of course there is a context to that phrase. Jesus was reminding the disciples that he would not be with them forever, that it was worth taking time to be cared for, to enjoy simple pleasures. The multitude of self-help books written on maintaining balance in life stem from this principle.
“The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me,” is yet another of those places in scripture where we are reminded that life is not simple. We reach out to help children in need, at the same time we find joy in the news of a child born into great privilege. Life doesn’t make sense. Let’s celebrate the complexity in which we live.