If you don’t want to crash land … let God get in the Pilot’s seat
Have you noticed, in recent years, the increase in desire for CONTROL and STATUS exhibited by an increasing number of people? Our first reading and Gospel reveal the possessive nature of some assistants to Moses and Jesus. Moses and Jesus are both very humble, happy to see God working through many people, and do not see themselves as SUPERIOR to others.
At the same time, we know Moses & Jesus were happy and at peace with themselves. Humility and joy for the success of others is so important for our own personal happiness.
The Second reading reveals what happens when we focus on seeking to be in control rather than of service to each other: we become corrupt by cheating the powerless people. This is clearly demonstrated by some Politicians and business owners driven by greed.
The warning today is that this corruption only leads to losing one’s life. Perhaps, as we look around, we think the corrupt people are doing well. Perhaps, because we look with human eyes of envy, and fail to see the sadness in the lives of many corrupt people: health issues caused by excess, living in a kind of fear they’ll one day be caught, or sad family lives where their children are only interested in money and have no love for the parent.
At the same time, the wealth taken dishonestly, becomes a like a mill-stone around their necks: several examples in Kenya reveal the sad, lonely deaths of people known to be corrupt.
Our Gospel also connects the issue of harming children to our reflection. All corruption and thirst for Control/Status, involves bad consequences for children. When a worker is cheated by their employer, their children will also suffer less resources for medical, education & food.
In our modern times, we are becoming more aware of modern slavery, and abuse of workers coming from poorer countries to rich countries – especially in the middle-east. Many others are being used for sexual slavery and pornography throughout some wealthy countries.
In the Church of course, the warning of Jesus about protecting children is very relevant. In the past, children were abused. But in the present, all over the world, all levels of the Church are trying to protect children through policies, training and practical safe-guarding actions.
It is instructive to remember how members of the media (outside the Church), were the ones who exposed the corruption of child abuse in our Church, reminding us that the Holy Spirit is not limited to us. At first, they were also not appreciated (like the 1st Reading & Gospel), but eventually we acknowledge and appreciate their contribution to stop the abuse.
When God is alive in one part of the Community, even other parts of the Community start to go well. Let us be open to learning from God through voices separated from our “control”. Sometimes, it’s the only way God gets through to us – whether in family life, work or Church.
Authentic preaching is preaching that “heals” people, not preaching that controls or demands money from people. However, let us ask: why do some people turn to bad behaviour to gain more control? Is it simply greed or is there another reason?
Fr Richard Rohr OFM makes an important point about CONTROL: basically, the less we believe there is a loving God in control – for the good of everyone – then we will have to take control of our own lives! And that is stressful. Part of that can be achieved by aligning ourselves to certain leaders who promise us what we want. But how can we hold them to account?
Gradually, we find ourselves doing “whatever it takes” and “whatever I can” in order to survive and be comfortable. If that means using/ abusing others, then bad luck for them.
The more God is lost, the more fearful and controlling people will appear around us. Perhaps this explains why so many people are trying to get elected into Government office?
As we enter into the election year, today’s Readings remind us about the need for TOLERANCE in society, and an openness to the goodness found in many people, not just the wealthy elite. Tolerance is not just “permitting” someone to exist, but opens our minds to learn from them.
In this election year, let’s focus on the individual candidates for election, rather than which party they belong to. Let’s vote for the Candidates who are faithful to their duties and have the best record in doing good work for all people: and the best record on corruption.
Who we follow determines where we will end up. Do we want God to be in CONTROL or some other human being? May we strengthen our faith for the good of all in our Community.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI