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Friday, September 6, 2013

How much is one human being worth?

Jesus had this funny way of turning our perceptions upside down in a way which is no less relevant today than it was 2000 years ago.

One of these perceptions was/is how we judge the worth of a human being, and the discouraging thing is that not much has changed on that score in the last 2 millennia.  In this week's Gospel passage (Luke 14:1-14), Jesus uses the highly formalized custom of ancient Jewish seating arrangement at a feast to point out how we value (or devalue) one another.

Today, as it was 2000 years ago, we use a number of criteria to judge the value or worth of a human being: wealth, education, physical appearance, pedigree, social status.  Those with a higher degree of these things are judged to be more valuable, more worth, to have more valid opinions and perceptions...basically to be better and more important than someone without these things.

While most of us would acknowledge on paper that these factors do not actually reflect the true value of a human being, in reality we consciously or subconsciously defer to our "betters" on a daily basis or expect our "lessers" to defer to us.

For example, when we go to a restaurant, do we think we are better than the server or cook because we are placing the order?  If it were not for them, we would not get fed.  When we go to a mechanic, do we feel we are better than him or her because we are paying for the work?  Without them, our car would not function.

Jesus challenges us to reflect that the person being served is not always the most important person in any transaction.  Jesus would remind us that all are created equal.

To download the podcast of my sermon, click here.

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