A couple of recent stories on NPR provided a look in microcosm at the vast income inequality in our society today. In one, someone had paid $800K for Orson Welles’ Oscar® for Citizen Kane at a Sotheby’s auction. $800,000 for a statue to gather dust! Absurd and outrageous, and yes, immoral in this day of so much suffering and such disparity between the uber-well-to-do and the rest of us.

The other piece was about a mother in Austell, GA, outside Atlanta, who had been unemployed since 2008, as I recall, and was now underemployed with a not-for-profit. She had to tell her son that she did not have the gas to take him to the church camp in nearby Villa Rica, GA that he wanted to attend. All she could afford was gas to get to work and to church. She told the tale through tears. How much gas would that anonymous bidder’s $800K have bought for that mother and other people like her? I was outraged. (I heard these stories on “All Things Considered,” Wednesday, December 21, 2011.)

Of course, there are great stories on the news about good-hearted people who fix and give away bikes or who are paying off layaway accounts for families who can’t afford to get their toys and other gifts. That even happened right here in Starkville, MS, where a man paid $1000 at the local Wal-Mart for layaways of toys and bikes, obviously for children, as identified by the clerk.

But these wonderful acts of charity in a way only punctuate the lack of income justice in this nation, where so many claim to be Christian, but ignore the poor and cater to the rich, and focus instead of trivialities like an SNL skit about Jesus and Tim Tebow or complain about people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Probably the best recent commentary on this situation I have seen is this video from Stephen Colbert’s program on Comedy Central, which I saw posted by someone on Facebook. Colbert says it all. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/368914/december-16-2010/jesus-is-a-liberal-democrat.

The birth of Jesus is cut from the same cloth as the rest of the gospel. It can’t be separated from his teaching, his death, his resurrection and ascension. The baby in the manger is the same Lord we are called to give our ultimate loyalty to, the same one who told us that in the least of these we serve him. Christmas is a calling, a way of life. Let us honor Christmas in our hearts every day by following Jesus and doing justice.

© 2011 Tom Cheatham. All rights reserved.