To me this is such a powerful picture. I’m mesmerised by the hard worn hands of this labourer. In truth when you visit Sudan you don’t normally see hands like this. The men who labour travel far for work and are often away from home, out of sight.
In the Nuba Mountain countryside this man would have tilled his own small holding, self-employed, providing for his family, building his house and granary. Displaced by years of war and rapacious government grabbing of agricultural land, denied the simple cultural life of the Nuba, he journeys round the cities looking for casual labour work, unskilled and ill-fitted for urban life.
He is one of the poor.
The distance between me and this man is massive, the blatant division between the privileged and the disinherited. Ignored and overlooked by the tide of life, yet it is around this man that the sign of the new covenant is written. The oppressed, the helpless – the good news is for such as these (Lk 4:18), the blessing of sharing in God’s reign (Lk 6:20). Labourers like this man cannot defend themselves and are casually abused, but there is One who will demand justice for him, treat him as a valued son, and pour out love and compassion on him.
Poverty is not a good thing. Jesus would never have called blest a state where people live in slums and have not enough to eat, where health rots because conditions are against it. He calls us to be part of making his kingdom present now. Not for ever will the hope of the poor come to nothing (Psa 9:18). He will satisfy the poor with bread (Psa 132:15).
Yes, Lord: your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven.