St Stephen Lewisham
29nd September 2013
Year C Week 25: Servants or Slaves?
The three Readings which we have just listened to may seem, at first sight, to have very little to do with each other. But, as so often happens when we look at something a little more closely, we discover that they have much more in common than we first thought.
The First Reading is about people exploiting one another. ‘Exploitation’ means taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes or weaknesses without thinking how much harm we may be doing them. There’s plenty of this sort of exploitation going on in the world today. The prophet Amos gives several examples. When people are starving they will give practically anything in order to get some food for themselves and their family, so what’s called a ‘Black Market’ develops. Not only do the suppliers of food take the opportunity to raise their prices sky-high, but they also give short measure for people’s money because, if they protest, they can be told to ‘take it or leave it’; there’s plenty of other people who’ll only too glad to have it and pay the price for it. That is happening all the time in the war-torn Middle East and especially where refugees from the war have lost everything they owned, their houses and their clothes. Which of us wouldn’t pay a high price for a pair of shoes rather than go bare-foot?
St Paul, writing to Timothy in the Second Reading, reminds him that prayers should be offered for everyone and that it is our duty to minister to everybody in an emergency crisis, (like the Good Samaritan did) and not just to ourselves. He insists that ‘peace and quiet’ ought to be the normal thing in people’s lives, and that the rule of law and order are the way to safeguard them. He contrasts the anger and argument which afflicts the world, with the peace brought about between God and Mankind by the ‘mediation’ of Jesus Christ ‘who sacrificed Himself as a ransom for all of them’. A ‘mediator’ is someone who makes peace between those who are angry and arguing with each other. That was the mission which the Father sent Him to perform and St Paul sees himself as carrying on that mission by ‘teaching the faith to the pagans – because God ‘wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.
Then, in the Gospel for today Jesus ‘ties these two ideas together’. We, as His followers are expected by Him to set everyone else an example of trustworthiness rather than dishonesty. ‘If you cannot be trusted with something as earthly as money’, He said, then who will trust you with genuine riches? Certainly God won’t do so: ‘He knows every secret of our hearts’.
Honesty, Loyalty and Trust. These should be the things by which the World comes to recognize that we are the Servants of God, and not the Slaves of Money.