We are so lucky here in New Zealand, and because of Covid 19, I think we all know it. If you take a look at the numbers of every other country world-wide you will know how truly lucky we are. Today is the International Day of Charity, in honour of Mother Teresa, on the anniversary of her death.
Today’s Old Testament Reading is Isaiah giving us, ‘Hope for the Future’. Isaiah talks about the first sign being Lebanon being a fruitful field again, a lush and fertile forest. Lebanon is one of Israel’s neighbours, but right now they are sliding down into an abyss. On this International Day of Charity, they very much need our prayers.
In Lebanon, decades upon decades of public mismanagement and corruption have led to a current economic collapse, the worst in 150 years. The water systems are near collapse, they only have electricity for 4 hours a day, they are so short of medicines that those needing them are dying now because of the lack. There are increasing shortages, including basic staples such as bread. Food prices have increased by up to 400%. The cost of a basic food basket for a single family is now 5 times the national minimum wage.
Billionaire businessman Najib Mikati was recently appointed as Lebanon’s new prime minister-designate in spite of the knowledge that he was involved in corruption, he was the only one thought capable of forming a government. The country has been without a full-fledged government for almost one year and with no proper government could not receive any international aid from the UN or other governments. Half the population are living below the poverty line and the spiralling local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value.
Today’s gospel reading is Jesus opening the eyes of two blind men. Let us pray that he opens the eyes of the billionaire Najib Mikati and of President of Lebanon Michel Aoun and gives them hearts for the poor and starving of Lebanon, many of whom are our christian brothers and sisters. Lebanon has the highest population of Christians in the Middle East estimated at 40.5% of the population. This horrible situation calls to my mind Germany in the great depression and we all know where that led. A desperate population turned to a Fanatical facist leader promising better things. We do not want that history to repeat. We do not want people flocking to the terrorist organisations rather than see their families starve. We need to support the Churches offering help in Lebanon and pray for wisdom for thier government.
Let us not forget also to support our own government in prayer and pray for those still in lockdown. Also for our local business community’s as they try to recover from Lockdown. Remember to be Kind to one another - we are all going through this together. I look at Lebanon and other countries hard hit by Covid and really feel grateful to be a Kiwi.