O Canada!!!!: On Caring for the “Other”

2 Corinthians 8:7-15                                                                                                                                                                                                     8:7 Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
8:8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.
8:9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
8:10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something–
8:11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.
8:12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have.
8:13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between
8:14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance.
8:15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

I am sure that we can all agree that Canada is a great place to live. We may even go so far as to say that it is the best place in the world. If you have any doubts just spend some time with folk from other parts of the world. In particular spend some time around refugees, people who have to flee their homelands to due war, persecution, or natural disasters. They appreciate this place, more perhaps than we ever will.

But what makes Canada so great? There are a lot of things: freedom, prosperity, opportunity, democracy, hockey (ok I may be a little bias on that last point). One of the great things about Canada that often goes unspoken is our concern for the other. Not just the less fortunate, or the down and out, but a genuine empathy for the general well being of all. This is evidenced in our healthcare, social, legal, and political systems. As Canadians we pride ourselves on balancing the rights and privileges of individuals with what works best for society.

That being said, the reading from 2 Corinthians is very appropriate for today. In it the apostle Paul is urging the Corinthian church to finish what is started by supporting his mission to provide financial assistance to the Christians in Jerusalem who had fallen on hard times. Apparently the Corinthian church had pledged support and now Paul is calling on them to follow through, following the example of Christ who became poor so that we could become rich. The lesson ends with a great quote that I think captures the essence of Canada: “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Now this is not true of Canada because it is mandated from our courts or legislatures, or even from scripture. It is true because it flows from the hearts of individual people. When generosity is a part of the DNA of people and woven into the fabric of society, then politicians have no choice but to respect the wishes of the people. So continue to be generous, kind, compassionate, welcoming people, because you and the things you do are what make Canada such a great place to live.

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