Saturday, February 26, 2011

Homily / Sermon for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)


‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’ (Matthew 6:25)

We are very familiar with the question posed to Jesus by the Pharisee: “So Lord, who is my neighbour?”. It is in answering that question that Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. We are perhaps not so obviously aware of the question which Jesus poses to us, though he does it on many occasions: “So, Man - who is your Master?”

Yet the relationship between Master and Servant (or Slave) comes up time and again in his teaching. The servants who care for the vineyard while the master is away. The servants who are disturbed in the night when the Master returns. The servants who toil in the vineyard. The servants whose debts are cancelled.

It is interesting perhaps, that in a country and at a time when their would have been much religious diversity, and the worshipping of strange gods, Roman Gods, Greek Gods, we never hear Jesus warn again that kind of idolatry, so clearly condemned by the first commandment.

It seems Jesus was little concerned with Zeus, Apollo, Diana or Jupiter. When he speaks of idolatry, of the worship of false Gods, of the following of a false master, he does so not to rail against those who are culturally or ethnically different, but instead to shake everyone’s foundations.

Who is your Master? He challenges us. It is personal comfort? Is it pleasure and leisure? Is it our own piece of mind, or security in the false knowledge that we are better than others? What do we really treasure?

Are we at ease being dishonest, if we get some benefit from it (and are unlikely to get caught)? Do we put respect for others above our own concerns? Is choice for ourselves, our own opinions and wishes, more important to us than what we have been taught is right and good?

Jesus challenges us to trust not in our own choices, but in our commitment to a Generous and Loving Master, who is our teacher and our guide. You see, it is not really money which is the problem. Money just makes more choices possible. It can be used for good or ill. No, if we make Money our Master, it is really Ourselves we have made Master.

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