Being our brother's keeper

07.25.16 | News | by Jacob Owensby

Being our brother

    Bishop Jake talks about a program that upgrades the skills of low-wage earners and connects them with employers offering living-wage jobs.

    Each of us is responsible for our own actions. Accountable to God and accountable to each other.

    We are also responsible for the well-being of our neighbor. Too frequently we focus on individual freedom while forgetting that God also created us to live together in mutual support as family, as children of God.

    When God asked Cain about his brother Abel’s whereabouts, Cain answered, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” This did not go well for Cain. And we should not expect our refusal to be our brother’s or sister’s keeper to go well for us, either.

    Jesus himself said that whatever we do to the needy, the helpless, the oppressed, and the marginalized we do to him. We are our sibling’s keeper.

    Our own well-being is bound forever to the well-being of everyone. That’s what it means to love our neighbor as our self.

    And so, let’s look at how our siblings are doing.

    The United Ways of Louisiana produced what is called The Alice Report: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. In other words, they studied how hardworking, fully employed people are doing across Louisiana.

    Forty percent of working households struggle to afford housing, food, childcare, health care, and transportation.

    These are working people whose wages are so low that they cannot reliably access the basic necessities of modern life.

    That’s 695,719 households on the verge of falling through the cracks. They are cashiers and auto mechanics. Landscapers and bank tellers. Child care workers and librarians. Food service personnel.

    These men and women struggle to make ends meet. They dream of making a better life for their families. But they are one illness or one car repair or one harsh storm from eviction and homelessness.

    It is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus to insist on the dignity of work. Every kind of work. Work should provide for a decent living for workers and for their families.

    Proper education, secure housing, adequate nutrition, and reliable healthcare are not luxuries. They are what is due to those who have worked hard and to those who cannot care for themselves.

    Each of us is responsible for our own choices and actions. And we are also our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

    Because we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper, several years ago, Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith in collaboration with the City of Monroe, Ouachita Parish Police Jury, WIB and training providers created New Opportunities Vision Achievement – NOVA – Workforce Institute of Northeast Louisiana. 

     

    NOVA identifies employers that have living wage jobs that go unfilled because employers cannot find the skilled labor needed to fill them. NOVA then upgrades the skills of low-wage workers so that they can qualify for these good paying jobs.

    This program has an 81 percent completion rate. Participants who were making an average wage of $9,000 a year have been placed in jobs making $30,000 a year with a career path and benefits.

    Together we can be our brother’s and sister’s keeper in word and deed.

    Jake Owensby is the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana. His blog is jakeowensby.com and his latest book is “Gospel Memories.”.

    Article obtained from http://www.thenewsstar.com/story/life/faith/2016/07/22/brothers-keeper/87408036/


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