January 3, Year B

Inspired by James 4:1-10

“Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts.” James 4:1-2a (NRSV)

There is a great deal of pain and suffering in the world. Some of it is caused by so-called ‘acts of God,’ i.e. natural disasters that strike anywhere anytime, completely independent of any human activity. But much more of it is brought on by us. Wars are fought because of greed, hunger for power and conquest, or hatred. Famine occurs both because of weather conditions and because of corruption in government and agricultural commerce. Disease claims the lives of millions because of inequity in health care and prevention. Broken relationships damage people because of unrealistic expectations or selfishness. And the list goes on.

While it is common to blame God for much of the suffering in the world, all God is doing is leaving us to face the consequences of our own actions. God isn’t doing this to us; we’re doing it to ourselves. The truth is we are all in community together, all the people of the world, and until we realize that a crime against any other person is a crime against all people, including ourselves, then we will continue to live in a world burdened with unnecessary pain and suffering.

But turning to God, recognizing that all we have is a gift from God, learning to be content with what we have, and figuring out how to live within our own resources, can create a world in which all people are treated equitably, and the blessings of God are shared abundantly with all his people. Trade will be voluntary and mutually beneficial, independence and sovereignty will be respected, and all people everywhere will have dignity. God has given us the tools and the resources to build such a society; all we have to do is use them wisely.

Let us pray. God of abundance, you have provided your people with all we need. Help us to share what we have, that none may know want, and all may know your gracious love. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.