On generosity and Coronovirus to lighten our darkness

No wonder Jesus taught in parables, in stories about the Generosity of the kingdom of God.  Because for the most part we just don’t get it. Jesus likes to provoke his listeners to expand their imaginations about what they know and understand to make a serious point. For God’s generosity outstretches our simple imaginations and even on our best days very often we want to limit that generosity to those like us or who think like us or those in our club or those we think deserve it… 

And if you don’t believe me ask the (how many are there?) Christian denominations who all think so slightly differently about how exactly we ought to go about things.  So parables like this just don’t make sense in our capitalist world of bigger better forevermore. Clearly Jonah didn’t get it either, as God asks, it is right for you to be angry? We’re obviously in good company. 

I wonder perhaps if we need to see the Coronovirus as a light in the darkness, a sign of the generosity of the kingdom of God as we hear in the parable from Matthew’s Gospel 20:1-16? And yes, I’m being provocative.  What can it illuminate?  It has cast a light on a great deal of things that would otherwise have remained in the shadows. The theologian, ecologist and Scottish Quaker Alistair McIntosh suggested in 2016 when Trump was elected, that Trump is good for us because he illuminates our shadow side.  What he went on to say was, in effect, Trump said, or more often tweeted what many thought, but felt they ought not to say out loud. And when the crowd cheered – it became policy.  You might say the same of anything in fact that brings out emotion, anger, prejudice, the shadow side, we’ve all got one, it’s perfectly normal!  So Coronovirus, a light in the darkness?  Well, it certainly illuminated for us our illusion of control over this earth and our illusion of what we appeared to think of as normal.  You know the phrase the new normal, but perhaps ‘becoming normal’ would be better, for we are still, I think learning what it is to be human. We are, humanity that is, still growing up.  Becoming normal means beginning to truly see, to be able to recognise that what we do always has an effect on something or someone else and when we realise, when we truly see then there is a chance to as the phrase goes build back better. Or as Jesus might say bring close the kingdom of heaven.  But will we take the opportunity? Illumination comes in many forms.  Jonah wasn’t quite ready sitting under his withered bush. He was still angry at what he perceived as an injustice.  What would the hearers of Jesus’ parable have made of it.  There is so much in there of the worth of a human life.  The worth of each person, the ability of some to find employment and others not.  The growing gap between those who have and those who have not.  Coronovirus has offered us at the very least a lens to see our world differently, that what we had was not normal, when we systematically underfunded our NHS and social care system. It doesn’t have to be normal to measure the worth of our economy in how much stuff we buy. Is it normal to struggle to find a home for millions of displaced peoples or to be unable to house the homeless in our own nation or to only see that they too were human when disaster strikes. Is it normal for the welfare system to only offer a hand out not a hand up.  When the poverty gap will never be over until we at least recognise that there was a gap.  How can it be normal to pollute the air and the water and the land which gives us life. Why did it seem normal to need yet more energy to power even more gadgets more individual transport more flights more roads.  I don’t think it was normal to never stop chasing around frantically busy in an attempt to keep on keeping on with whatever it was and then we ask what was it that was so important yesterday that I didn’t have the time to pause for a moment and then when we did we began to ask why and perhaps did we begin to see, to hear, as we heard the birds singing where we’d never heard them sing before.  If the traffic noise is so great, do the birds sing anyway? Have we forgotten already? Are we ready to pass by the opportunity to be a generous people and as in the parable of Jesus to bring close the kingdom of God.