It was in the New York Times that I read the story of a Jewish rabbi and a world famous financial investor who had met through their wives and had become friends. The investor was born of a Christian family and sang in the choir of his Protestant church in his youth, although he later on gave up religion.
The rabbi’s wife prevailed upon her husband to ask their friend to invest their life’s savings in stocks and bonds. He made the investment, which in 25 years yielded 25 million dollars.
The reason that the two men were featured in the good-size article was that the rabbi and his wife had recently given one third of their fortune to the theological seminary in which he had prepared for his ministry.
The two men were asked how a friendship between such unlike persons had ever begun and then endured for such a long time. The rabbi answered, “We both felt that the business of life is to be decent to one another and to live with compassion and not indifference,”
It’s hard to think of a statement that comes closer to the sentiments of Jesus.
We’ve just completed the many weeks of Easter and Ascension, when the church put before us a Jesus who was preparing his followers for his physical absence, when they would no longer see him or hear him. He is reminding them of what he had taught. He is encouraging them to stay close to him as he is close to the One that he called Father. And he is cautioning them not to be deceived or won over by the world’s spirit of greed and selfishness and idolatry.
If we are going to be faithful to Jesus’ wish for us, we need all the inspirational help that we can get. Jesus said, “Let your good works shine before others so that, when they see them, they too will give glory to God.” I think that also implies that we need to look for and pay close attention to people who are saying things like —
+This war is immoral. Human lives are more precious than a nation’s treasury.
+This doesn’t belong to me. I cannot keep it. I have no right to it.
+We don’t always have to make business decisions. We must also make decisions from the heart. These workers have families and children.
+ She’s gone home to God. She lives, and we can receive from her some of the peace and happiness she now enjoys in perfect union with our Creator.
+Sex is about love. It’s not for domination or intimidation or barter or selfish pleasure.
+A baby is a human being with inalienable rights whether in the womb or outside it.
+Women are as fully human beings as are men. By God’s design they have every right that men have.
+I won’t buy or wear clothes or shoes or anything else that I suspect was made by the slave labor of children and the oppressed poor in third-world countries.
And so on…
We call ourselves sons and daughters of the Resurrection. That cannot mean that the promise of eternal life and happiness in the world-to-come relieves us of responsibility in this mortal life here on earth or allows us to go the world’s self-serving way. Quite the opposite: it imposes on us the heavy responsibility to know the mind and heart of Jesus and to make him the ultimate and practical standard of everything we say and do.