Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thought for the Day

When I was the port chaplain in Montreal I sat around with a Filipino crew who described the precautions they had had to take against pirates in the Straits of Malacca.

I’d thought pirates were a thing of the past.
Right now there is a standoff taking place on the East African coast where an immense oil tanker has been hijacked by Somali pirates. It’s being anchored off a coastal region which has now become dependent on piracy and its by-products. Houses are being built, children are being schooled and infrastructure developed based on one single industry – the seizing of valuable goods and the ransoming of the lives of seafarers.

Many of Jesus’ parables are stories about human need. An outmatched king is forced to negotiate with an opposing army. A poor widow loses a valuable coin. A man walks through a field and discovers a hidden treasure in the ground that is his for the seizing. Rich and poor – there’s something we need and for which we will expend tremendous energy to either gain it or retain it.
Any parable written about this act of piracy would doubtless link three needy groups of people: the seafarers, first of all, not knowing what will become of them in all of this. Then there are the ordinary people of poor and war-torn Somalia who had long watched the riches of the world passing in front of their shores just beyond their reach. 

The third group of desperate people? That would be you and me. Much of the optimism of the last twenty years has been based on the idea that the world is one big market and that all our lives are bettered by global prosperity.

Well – it seems not to work that way. The rising tide hasn’t floated all ships. Quite naively we have paraded our wealth in the face of crushing poverty and then wonder why somebody would simply seize what comes within their grasp.

This bit of history has reminded us how needy we are too and how fragile our way of life has become.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A comic strip about today's Gospel reading from the folks at AgnusDay