THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES (16:16-34) spoke today of a young slave girl’s mental health problems (as we’d probably describe her condition today) being grossly used to earn a living for her “owners” who pressed her into “fortune-telling”.
Leap forward 2000 years to Bangladesh where, on Friday, 19 years old Reshma Begum was pulled from the rubble of an eight-storey sweat-shop, the collapsed Rana Plaza clothing factory in Bangladesh, where she had been trapped in the basement since the 24th April. More than 1000 others lost their lives there.
O, dear God, grace humankind we pray with a new ability to turn from hardness of heart. Teach us the truest and highest meaning of “religion” wheresoever and in whomsoever it is applied: teach us, after the pattern of anointed “Christs” throughout history, that to be humanely human, to be religious, indeed to be “Christian” means primarily being one who “binds up”, offering healing and compassion for all humankind that, as Jesus of Nazareth prayed, “they may be one”. Help us to see that withholding such grace creates planks in hypocritical eyes altogether more offensive and blinding than mere splinters in the eyes of those we too often feel minded either to “turn a blind eye to”, or to direct.
And may the tears of joy that greeted Reshma Begum’s “resurrection” also wash the wounds of those who mourn the heedless and needless destruction of over 1000 of her colleagues – and many more worldwide. May care and compassion for our brothers and sisters always take precedence over “making a living” out of “fortune-telling” …