How lonely sits the city
that once was full of people!
How like a widow she has become,
she that was great among the nations!
She that was a princess among the provinces
has become a vassal.
She weeps bitterly in the night,
with tears on her cheeks.
These words from the book of Lamentations are in reference to Jerusalem 2,500 years ago, but just as soon be about Baltimore today. With a population almost half of what it was a few decades ago, with increasing numbers of vacant homes, schools with declining enrollment and employers and investors threatening to move out of the city, we find ourselves more and more like a ‘vassal state’ - seemingly dependent on outside influences, outside donors, outside founders to get anything done.
In the current debate about ‘Squeege kids’ this is front and center. The primary concern of our political leaders is not ‘whats best for Baltimore’ or ‘whats best for our kids’ or even ‘what’s best for our communities?’ But rather ‘How can we keep county commenters happy? County shoppers and diners happy?’ This ‘politics of scarcity’ is terrible and infectious.
By infectious I mean we can similarly find ourselves feeling like we ‘aren’t enough’, that we can’t do it on our own, that we have been abandoned by God. We find ourselves waiting. Sitting. Immobile. Unable or unwilling to do anything for ourselves until ‘someone else’ comes with a solution.
In the Gospel this week we are promised that if we have ‘faith the size of a mustard seed’ anything is possible. This seems unbelievable of course. Personally I’ve never tried to move a mountain or cast a mulberry tree into the sea, mostly because I’m afraid what it would say about me!
But I have seen amazing things happen in unlikely places, with unlikely people. The Samaritan Community grew out of two people saying ‘we’ve got to be able to help these folks coming to the church for food.’ And 40 years later they are a vital part of this community.
Perhaps it is time for another vision? What if Memorial were to say ‘we’ve got to do something to employ these kids on the corner?’ Or ‘we’ve got to do something to reduce violence in our community?’ What if some local churches joined together to confront these efforts... and DIDN’T WAIT FOR A SAVIOR OR A FUNDER FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE TO DO IT FOR US.
We are reminded by Saints ancient and modern that we are Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. We have all we need right in front of us. We need to get rid of the politics of scarcity and embrace a theology of abundance, and trust that with faith in God, and embracing God’s vision for our community that those things we need will fall in place just in time.
This is true for our city, our community, our parish, and ourselves — Put yourself out there and see what happens.