5th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"No servant can serve two masters.* He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."(Lk 16:13)
Are those words attributed to Jesus true?
I just wonder about that, as many of us try uneasily to serve several 'masters' in life, often with out realising it- I'll use myself as an example, it seems easier and is less of a problem as I can only blame myself! I am a Catholic Christian whose ministry in the Church is to be a priest, therefore like all the baptised I am called to serve the Most High in the way of the Gospel, that is supposed to be my primary vocation, so if I have any 'master' it is God.
But hold on, I also have to act within certain categories of work, under legitimate authority that can occasionally cause conflict with my conscience, usually that can be resolved! I am, like all of you, somebody who earns their daily bread and therefore answerable to other so called 'masters', my employers in academe, the State, to whom I have to pay my bills and taxes, and in this more open world, where freedom of religion and belief are part of law, I also need to respect the other peoples position and rights, especially those who may disagree with mine! So we juggle many coloured balls in the air, all of decision-making, trying hard to find a modus vivendi in our world.
Most of us manage quite well, yes, we may like money, desire comfort, but we accommodate ourselves to the situations we are in. Occasionally though, we are faced with a challenge, when faith, conscience and our other 'masters' clash. In some parts of the world this can lead to imprisonment and death, for when push comes to shove and we are faced with deep and sometimes dark choices , what do we do? I've been there several times, not in the sense of imprisonment and death, but in the stark terms of facing malpractice and dishonesty (I prefer that wider word mendacity) and having to decide whether to act or remain acquiescent! Maybe I am simply stubborn, but my instinct is always to fight for justice and truth and that is not a popular choice! Why rock the boat? Why hang on and fight when the forces of the institution are bound to win? Why? This is because deep in my soul the voice of the Spirit calls me to face God in truth and the choice of conscience becomes clear.
It is a great pity this Sunday's Gospel ends at verse 13, because the next two verses really push us into the vision and world of Christ: ' The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, "You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God",'(Lk 16:14,15)
That for me is where I should be, you have to make your own choice, as a follower of Christ in the end I can only justify myself in front of God, who alone knows me fully! If one wants to use that term, God is my only 'master' and in the end I can only serve God, nobody else!
Thomas More on Education
"The whole fruit of their [educational] endeavours should consist in the testimony of God and a good conscience. Thus they will be inwardly calm and at peace and neither stirred by praise of flatterers nor stung by the follies of unlearned mockers of learning."
-"Letter to William Gonell," his children's tutor, May 22, 1518
"I die the king's good servant, and God's first." (Translation of the Paris Newsletter account, August 4, 1535: "qu'il mouroit son bon serviteur et de Dieu premierement.")
John Henry Newman, Meditations and Devotions
God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission - I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his - if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. … He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work: I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling. (MD, p. 400)
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