Friday 12 April

 4Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

5You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts on a day of slaughter. 6You have condemned and murdered the righteous one, who does not resist you.

The only way I can fairly read this text is to hear it as addressed to me. There is no room in this complex, conflicted world, to exclude myself from the category of the unjust. The material benefits of life are not equally distributed and I am implicated if only by my lavish lifestyle, as one who stands justly condemned.

I have “lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure.” I have “fattened” my heart without consideration for the “slaughter” that is the cost of my self-indulgence.

I live in a global consumerist culture where so much of the food and “luxury” I take for granted is produced using the labour of those who work under conditions that would be intolerable to anyone in a more developed part of the world. When my comfort is bought at the expense of those who suffer, I “have condemned and murdered the righteous one.”

Jesus said,

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40)

To eat and clothe myself in this complicated interconnected world, it is difficult to avoid having some blood on my hands.

How much do I want to know about the labour conditions by which my clothing is mass produced? How willing am I to be told about the cost to poor migrant farm workers who struggle to make a living harvesting the crops that are shipped to my table for easy consumption? How much do I want to see the pollution and devastation to the planet that results from my conspicuous consumption?

There may be no way to live “pure” in the midst of the complexities of the world. But I can seek to be aware. I can watch the choices I make and seek to pay attention to their impact. Then perhaps there will be just a tiny bit more justice in this broken world.