while offering ‘in principle’ support
for the concept of kingdom of God, find the idea that God might want to direct
the ways that money is used
or disposed of,
Riches are from God, they assert;
our prosperity is proof enough
that we are virtuous and good.
The Lord would not have so blessed us
if it were otherwise.
With wealth comes responsibility;
we understand that,
and we take our obligations seriously.
Assistance must be provided
for widows and orphans;
the scriptures are strong on that point.
But the poor, as a category,
includes a range of people:
wastrels, profligates, intemperates and such,
not all of them deserving of our largesse.
When it comes to generosity,
it’s best to err on caution’s side.
A charitable trust, perhaps;
with appropriate tax benefits.
Jesus, spinner of many improbable
and awkward yarns,
once told a story about vineyard workers.
The workforce grew steadily
as more pickers were recruited
at various points throughout the day.
In the end, the undeserving latecomers
are treated with generosity,
while the twelve-hour labourers
merely get what is fair.
The indignation engendered
by the travelling teacher man
sees his polite audience shaking their heads
And with the way he put his tale together,
the heat-of-the-day workers,
can’t even complain that the lucky ones
We, who are theologically informed,
understand that this story is all about divine grace,
improbable and outrageous.
Two millennia on
such generosity still offends.
Unless, of course, it is extended to ourselves. We, as everyone can see,