By Hope Sullivan Masters

Why is it that some of us were born with so much and others with so little? Why did God create a world order that is so unfair?

Earlier today, I learned of a man who passed away in Sierra Leone only because the health care available to him was inadequate. If he had lived here in Washington, DC, he could have easily received the treatment he needed to survive. But John lived in a country where there is only one hospital bed per 1,000 people and the life expectancy for a male is 38 years old. There is less than one physician (.3 to be exact) available to treat every 1,000 people and only 2.9of the national gross domestic product is spent on health care. This man, who had learned a skill and a trade and was earning a living as a builder, died earlier than he should have in a hospital that would be boarded up, closed based on code violations, and “yellow taped” as a crime scene in any city in the United States.

But the truth is that John received treatment and ultimately died in the best possible place, in the only hospital that his loved ones could find. It just wasn’t good enough.

John’s predicament begs the question: Why are we so blessed and why was John not as blessed?

The Bible teaches us of another man named John, the favored disciple of Jesus Christ, who over and over again before he died repeated the phrase little children, love one another little children, love one another because John the Apostle considered that phrase to be the most important message he had received from God. John knew that it is only through the love shared “brother to brother” and “child to child”, that humanity would rise above injustice to enter the Kingdom of God.

John the Apostle, who it is widely believed wrote the book of Revelations, had an epiphany about what would occur at the end of the world in the event that we chose not to love one another and practice brotherly and sisterly affection. The man who passed away earlier today shared the name of this trusted and devoted disciple of Jesus Christ, and he also shared his vision. Both of these men shared a vision of hell on earth – the vision of macabre and unfair treatment of God’s most precious children. John the Apostle witnessed the brutal Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and John of Sierra Leone witnessed abject poverty, and absolute inhumanity to man – all because those of us who have means to help his country, did not. This man of Sierra Leone, who passed away needlessly, shared the name and vision of a prophet.

This man of Sierra Leone, whose pain and untimely death left me looking to the heavens once again asking Why? Why did You do this?

But tonight, I received my answer. Because I am deeply rooted in the belief that Almighty God makes no mistakes, the answer that came to me was simple and plain. Here is my truth: God did not give us more than He gave John. God gave all of us the same. Some of us took too much.

The excess that exists in our lives, mine included, is reprehensible. We are not deserving and certainly not entitled to such excess. John’s death teaches me about the desperate state of health care in Sierra Leone, about the utter disregard of men, women and children who live there, and so many of us who daily endeavor to collect more and more excess to hoard for ourselves.

Perhaps this disparity a divine test of our will. Perhaps our actions are being judged by the greatest Jurist that ever was. Perhaps we are the unwitting beneficiaries of a legacy of consumption, a set-up, if you will a lavish legacy that we are morally accountable to reverse in order to restore His earth to balance. And perhaps the imbalance of the Earth’s atmosphere that is stumping even the most brilliant of scientists and astronomers – the unstable environment and the solar system — are all a result of His disappointment. John wrote the book to warn us, and now another John has delivered a message to heed.

Perhaps the responsibility to steward the spoils of our ancestors with compassion and grace is the other side of the blessing.

The untimely death of a man named John, whom I never met personally, stirs within me a deep sense of sadness and reminds me that we have much work to do to reverse and return the spoils of so many battles, fought without fairness, to the innocents whose wealth was smuggled, stolen, and brutally bartered, all so that a few could live in comfort while leaving millions of God’s children in poverty and without hope.

We took too much.

Today, let us begin the process of returning the excess to our brothers and sisters in need. If not for you or your children or your children’s children do it for John.

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

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