Today being the anniversary of my confirmation, I decided to mark the day by going to daily Mass. The celebrant began his homily at the end of the gospel reading: “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” He asked us to think about our blessings: the blessing of life, of health, of faith – and in the United States, a standard of living surpassing that of most of the world. He then connected this to the caravan of Central American migrants now making their way through Mexico toward our southern border, saying that it makes him angry when people vilify them for seeking the same blessings of life and liberty, and he mentioned his own ancestors who had made a difficult journey from Europe many years before for the same reason.
I admit I squirmed a bit at the traces of American Dream mythos here, in which the nation itself tends to take on a mythic role as bestower of life and liberty, but that wasn’t the point. However our material possessions and privileges came to us, earned or unearned, we who are Christians must hold them loosely, knowing that they – and we – are subject to a higher authority than the priorities of the state.
The latter seems to be approaching the sentiment captured in this song from Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown, a 2010 musical theatre adaptation of Orpheus set not in hell but in a walled city, where the boss “Hades” indoctrinates the wall-builders:
Because we have and they have not!
Because they want what we have got!
The enemy is poverty,
And the wall keeps out the enemy,
And we build the wall to keep us free.
That’s why we build the wall,
We build the wall to keep us free.
For Christians, any such sentiments are directly superseded by the words of Christ in today’s gospel:
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.