A homily given by Christopher L. Webber on August 19, 2014.
Bible Readings: Ezekiel 28:1-10 and St. Matthew 19:23-30
The two readings this morning deal with wealth, the problem of wealth, which may not be the problem most on your mind this morning – there’s said to be 1% of the population that has a wealth problem and most of us are more like the 99%. But wealth is one of the major themes not only of the Bible as a whole but especially of the Gospels and especially of Jesus’ teaching and it should be our concern because whether you and I are wealthy or not we are members of a wealthy society.
Let me give you a few statistics to put that in perspective: average household income: US – $53,000; Norway and Switzerland and Luxemburg do better and Germany is close at 45,000 and England at 39,000 but Mexico is 10,000 and Haiti is 860 – less than three dollars a day. No wonder there are illegal immigrants.
The Old Testament reading speaks directly to this situation. The prophet Ezekiel is denouncing the prince of Tyre and what’s interesting about that is that the experts tend to doubt that Ezekiel was ever in Tyre or even near it. Ezekiel was born in Jerusalem and exiled to Babylon in the 6th century before Christ and Tyre is in modern Lebanon north of Israel. In those days it was an island with two of the best harbors in the eastern Mediterranean which were the source of its wealth – and it had great wealth. Alexander the Great came along three centuries later and built a causeway to the island to capture it and its wealth. But Ezekiel is holding it up as an example, a city of legendary wealth, whose people imagine that all that wealth came to them because of their godlike wisdom.