Saturday, October 20, 2007

James 5:1-6: People Above Things

"Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud!" ~ James 5:4a

James condemns the rich for storing up treasure that rots (v. 2), gets moth-eaten (v. 2), and corrodes (v. 3). This is the first and greatest condemnation of material wealth: since Jesus has given us a share in His death and resurrection, storing up earthly treasures beyond what God grants us is a blasphemy against the servant King of Heaven.

This is the second condemnation of material wealth: it exploits the sons and daughters of God whom we are to love as our neighbors and friends. We don't have to think hard to discover contemporary workers who are being exploited and paid unjust wages (v. 4). Read about it here and here.

In keeping with the Last Judgment of Matthew 25, James treats insults against the poor - as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta so beautifully called them, "the distressing disguises of Jesus" - as insults to the Messiah himself. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees who sent Jesus to the Cross, these rich people have harassed, beaten, and even murdered their employees without cause.

Mighty God, in Amos 6:8 you say, "I abhor the pride of Jacob." Let we, your new Israel across the earth, seek you humbly and thank you gratefully for the blessings you bestow on us. You fulfill our every need; how can we seek more? Amen.

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