September 11, 2013
Season of Peace Reflection for 9/11
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
While direct physical violence may be more visible and attract more attention, there is another form of violence that is far more widespread in the world and that arguably does far more harm over time. It is known as structural violence, and it refers to social and economic structures that oppress and impoverish people, preventing them from meeting their basic human needs and realizing their full human potential.
Matters of social and economic justice hold a central place in the Bible. These issues are found all through the Hebrew prophets. Jesus talks more about wealth and poverty than almost any other issue. Indeed, if we tried to cut out all the references to the rich and the poor in the Bible, our Scriptures would be left in shreds.
Question for discernment:
Do you consider economic practices of unemployment, poverty-level wages, and work without health or retirement benefits to be forms of structural violence?
Good and generous God, all that we have comes from you and is meant to be shared. But the social and economic system in which we live concentrates wealth and power into the hands of a few at the expense of the many. Give us the knowledge and passion to transform unjust structures so that the basic human needs of all people can be met.