The evening prayer begins each night with these words: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked will I return. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Every night I am reminded of one of one of my key beliefs in life: we are all born equally vulnerable.
At times in my life when I have been intimidated by people in “high” positions, I have been reminded that “we all put our pants on the same way, one leg at a time.” I think this prayer is a daily reminder of this little gem of advice. Not only do we all put our pants on the same way, we all are equally favored, equally unfavored. In fact, in Matthew during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminds us what it means to be perfect or holy. We are called to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to remember, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” By sending the sun and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust, God reinforces our equality and demonstrates the ultimate act of grace.
I think Jesus also wants us to realize that God is providing all of us with the ability to support ourselves. By giving people sun and water, God is essentially making sure that all people can make a living off of the land. God does not withhold sustenance from even the most evil people. Instead, God gives them the same potential as the righteous to sustain their bodies. This seems to be a central idea of the Scriptures. We are designed to work and to be self-sustaining, but not the point of individualism with no regard for our community. In fact, to me the Scriptures seem to strike a delicate balance between self-sustenance and communal living, all while pointing out our equality and the necessity of reliance on God. The narrative arc of the Bible always amazes me, as what happens from the very beginning in Job subtly unfolds and is commented upon again and again, up through Revelation when we are again made equal before the Lord. We are all vulnerable to the forces of nature, but equally vulnerable.