Generosity, assistance & respect for others … builds the only true security for our future
Too often we project the bad behaviour reported in the Gospel/ OT onto other people and avoid placing ourselves in the firing line. Today, perhaps we could be a bit more honest to ourselves?
The First Reading talks about the trade and financial scams done by the rich people in part of Israel. We can summarise this as: how we treat other people in daily transactions, today.
In the developed world, business transactions are usually straight forward – prices are marked. But, have you noticed in the last two years how the packaging of some products has remained the same, while the quantity inside has reduced (from, say, 500 to 450 grams), but the price remains the same? They call it shrinkflation. Modern day fiddling with the scales?
Now that’s about those people out there, those bad people… not like us good people, right?
But what about us? For example, do you rent a house? How do you treat that house?
How do you treat the garden that comes with the house?
I heard of a family returning to a small retirement home they had purchased long ago. when the daughter, now grown up, walked in she said: “it looks like a shipwreck!”
When we go to work, do we do as little as possible for the boss, or as much as possible? Are we cheating through laziness, “borrowing” equipment/materials from the boss without permission? Do we warn the boss when something is dangerous/ damaged… or just keep quiet and let the boss suffer?
But, really, who suffers if the boss loses money or the business is damaged? Surely it is we the workers? Maybe you can get another job, but what about others in the company?
The second reading answered a question for early Christians about how to deal with the non-Christian – often brutal – Governments of their day? St Paul says: pray for them, for our material well-being depends on their good management, and our cooperation (up to a point).
We can apply that teaching to our work boss; and we have to apply it to our Politicians. We may not like our Boss. Our Boss might be unfair at times. But, until we get a better job, we rely on that Boss to buy bread for our family. Pray in words, and pray in actions to safeguard the Boss: by doing so, you safeguard your job.
When we travel on public transport, how do we treat the vehicle? Do we treat it roughly? Do we take care with luggage or cause damage/scapes? At the end of the day, when we damage a public vehicle, we all have to pay for the damage through increased ticket prices.
When we drive on the road, do we drive like we own the road and others are trespassing?
Do we help others enter a busy road by slowing down and flashing out lights?
Do we stay in the slow lane or do we block people by driving slowly in the fast lane?
The Gospel is a complicated text in some ways, however, one simple message we can take from it is this: It’s never too late to change our bad behaviour and do good. Especially priests and religious need to be generous and honest. And, sometimes, we need to be challenged by the people we serve. Without accountability, we easily go off the path.
Money and material things are meant to help others, not be stored up as security. When we use money and material things to help others, we automatically create a better security for ourselves, by empowering the Community which gives us life. We only have to look at the wealth lost by people in the Ukraine war, or the losses in Kenya in 2007-08.
Last week, a terrible fire broke out in a boarding house in Meru, next to our Gachanka Church. 30 students from poor families, in northern Kenya, lost their bedding, clothes, etc.
As the Oblates start to assist, we also expect the local parish Community to also assist them. The students attend our Gachanka Secondary School.
When a local Community assist, it builds up gratitude in the students – less likely to do violence or stealing – and the local people also create a future where these same students will become generous to others in crisis: you and I helping people = you and I receiving help.
At times, we can become frustrated: thinking our help is wasted or unappreciated.
Mother Teresa, a modern day Saint, always matched her words with her actions:
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI