There’s an old song entitled “God Bless the Child.” I think it was first recorded by Billie Holiday and later by Blood, Sweat and Tears, among many others. I sometimes think of the lyrics when I hear our Gospel reading from Luke or its parallel in other Gospels: “Them that’s got shall get/them that’s not shall lose/So the Bible said/ but it still is news/ Mama may have/ and Papa may have/God bless the child/that’s got his own.”
I think when we hear Jesus say, “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away,” many of us follow the interpretation that the song seems to make; “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” But before Jesus says the verse mentioned above, He says, after saying that what will be hidden will become visible, “Take care, then, how you hear.”
I can’t believe that Jesus is advocating, or perhaps more accurately, capitulating to, the reality of poverty and inequality. What the Scripture scholars tell us is that Jesus is talking about a desire for a closer relationship with God, and a subsequent desire to follow God’s will in all things. As we get closer to God, we want even more, and God will grant this to us! As we seek to do God’s will, we receive more and more insight into what that will may be for us. As we seek to know God’s love and are willing to share it with others, the more we will receive to do just that. But if we try to interpret God’s will to match ours, instead of the other way around, we will grow less close to God.
We have been given the light of Christ’s love, and as Jesus tells us, we are not to hide it, but share it! Indeed, God bless the child who receives this light, and God bless the child who lets it shine to others!
Fr. Phil Paxton, C.P., is the local superior of the Passionist Community in Birmingham, Alabama.