She appeared to be no more than five or six years old. She was clearly holding, with all her strength, a baby wrapped in a blanket. She was speaking Spanish rapidly, standing only about three inches from me. With my limited understanding, I thought she was asking for money. My assumption was quickly corrected by a colleague who was more fluent in Spanish than me. “Did you get that she was trying to sell the baby to you?”
As you might imagine, I was immediately filled with a sense of shock and sadness. What would motivate a person to sell their sibling or their own child? Obviously it is complex, but at the core is an overwhelming experience of scarcity. When one’s existence, and even more importantly that of their children, becomes so marginalized in utter desperation, such drastic measures appear to be the only option.
The experience of, or fear of, scarcity is pervasive at all levels. Poverty, indebtedness, unemployment, even immigration are based on economic scarcity. Yet scarcity also happens on a relational level. When we feel unloved, unwanted, not valued, demeaned or marginalized, we often react or respond out of a place of scarcity. Likewise, when God or the Body of Christ – the Church – feels distant, our hearts and souls live in a place of scarcity.
Our God is not a God of scarcity but of abundance. The words of Jesus make this crystal clear, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) The life that Jesus proclaims is a life where everyone has enough: livelihood, love of neighbor, and most importantly love of God. That is why, wherever there is scarcity, whether economic or relational, with either neighbor or God, we are called to do whatever we can to make sure everyone has enough.
This will only happen if we, as witnesses to the abundant life, work to end all forms of oppression that hold back any one of God’s children from living the abundant life.