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Fr Ray Hemingray has shared his thought for today, Sunday 15th August 2021.

Caring and sharing

I can recall a couplet from a poem by the early 18th century poet, Alexander Pope, whose poetry I studied for A Level English Literature (I should never have chosen that subject – I didn’t do very well in the exam!):

‘Between Excess and Famine lies a mean;
Plain, but not sordid; tho’ not splendid, clean.’

A modern cry would be: ‘Everything in moderation!’

But the world is full of excess and famine. Not everyone in the world has the choice of finding a ‘mean’. Mankind does not seem to be very good at sharing surpluses with those in need, because there are millions who have more than enough, whilst at the same time there are millions around the world who are starving, either because their crops have failed, or as a result of flooding or some other natural disaster, or because they cannot afford to buy seed. So whilst a high percentage of the world is short of food, another high percentage has plenty of food – and many of them even pursue diets!

However, thank goodness for the aid agencies that do get food to many of those around the world who cannot get enough. And thank goodness for all those who care about people less fortunate than themselves and help fund the aid agencies.

Nature does not balance itself evenly across the globe. There are people in parts of the world experiencing severe cold, whilst others are suffering severe high temperatures, as we have seen recently in the news, with record high temperatures resulting in wildfires in many parts of the world.

Many nations in the world are very concerned about climate change, whilst others are not.

For example, since 2012 Mexico has been making strenuous efforts to keep it’s carbon emissions within the guidelines of the Paris Agreement. But it was not always so. This is what one expert on climate change once said about Mexico:

“In AD 1309 an Aztec Indian inhabitant of what is now Mexico City was found guilty of burning charcoal in the city and polluting the air. He was ordered to be hanged for the offence.
Today Mexico City has a carbon-monoxide level greater than that of New York, a sulphur-dioxide level greater than that of London and ten times the industrial contaminants of the industrialised Rhine River valley.”

We tend to think of caring about others in terms of tangible things, like food, clean water, medical supplies, and so on. But there are some intangible things that the world could do with sharing a bit more – like peace, love and harmony. Think of all the countries where there is oppression and persecution, where people live in fear.

We all know the answers to these worldwide problems. It’s all about caring, sharing, and being a good neighbour to those we know and to those we will never know. We can’t force other people to be caring, but we can show by example what caring can achieve. As Jesus

said: “Let your light so shine before people, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven”. (Matthew 5.16)

When it comes to helping to feed the world, we can’t all afford to be as generous as some. But millions of people giving a little can make a big difference. (I am reminded of the Scottish proverb: “Many a mickle mak’s a muckle.”)

And it isn’t just people’s immediate needs that we need to think about. As with the topic of climate change, we have to think of the generations to come after us. Here’s a little story I have found that illustrates the point:

A very old Chinaman was busy in his orchard when the ruler of the district happened to pass by. ‘You are very old, surely’ said the ruler. ‘I am a 100 years old, sire’, replied the old man. The ruler was impressed. ‘But are you not planting fruit trees?’, said the ruler. ‘Surely you do not hope to live long enough to gather the fruit from these saplings? And if not, why make your back ache?’ ‘It is as you say’, the old man replied. ‘But, sire, when I came into the world I found many good things awaiting me. I would like to think that when I pass on there will be good things waiting for others.’

We should all be grateful for all that we have enjoyed in life as a result of the efforts of people who came before us, and in turn play our part in supporting future generations.

So, ‘caring and sharing’ has been my thought for this week. Jesus said: ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ (Luke 3:11) How many of us have wardrobes and drawers containing clothes we haven’t worn for a very long time (and probably never will wear again), when there are a lot of poor people who would be glad of them? I think I have just talked myself into a wardrobe clear-out and a trip to the charity shop during the coming week!

Fr Ray