Last week at a presentation I wore a t-shirt proclaiming me, “I am god”. It was to help me emphasise a point then. However it had also provoked my thoughts on today’s passage. “No servant 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.” (Today’s gospel)
I live now in a progressive affluent city. Outside of this city in the many provinces there are still many, many poor people. Some money will aid them to become materially more comfortable. I know as I grew up during the years when my country and my family were poor. Money was not initially a temptation; it was a daily need and it drove us on. Today where I am, the middle class has grown, the wealthy are running further away with riches and the rich-poor divide is wider than ever.
Amongst us who have enough, money becomes a temptation. This temptation however is evolving. We are materially comfortable. We have more than adequate food, clothes and shelter. We are also blessed with education. Smarter and comfortable we seek for even more to be gratified. The poor is the government’s responsibility. Self-gratification is an unquenchable thirst. Pursuing it open our door for temptation.
Being materially comfortable is good. It makes us self-confident. God wishes for us to be so. But self-confidence needs proper stewardship without which it can lead to cockiness. Because we are materially comfortable we no longer are happy merely to fill our belly and have a roof over our heads. We can afford more. We want to pleasure ourselves even more. We give up the values of old-fashioned beliefs and enter the brave new world. We desire instant gratification. Heaven can wait.
This cockiness is gradually pushing religion out of our life. We no longer seek basic comforts. Gone are the days when humans huddled together as a community to farm, work and share our basic needs. The world has taken off. Today we dice with danger when we promote ‘self’ and ‘individual rights’. Herein lies the temptation evolved from money. We build kingdoms for the ‘individual self’. In this kingdom there is no longer space for the old fashioned God. “I am god”.
Many perpetuate anger with God’s “old ways” but the truth of religion is that God isn’t angry in return. There is no judgement, only humble waiting. There is an acceptance of this world for its humanness. “There should be prayers offered for everyone especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth.” (Second reading)
The reality of our humanness is that all of us will try to build our own little kingdoms. We will be dishonest to our faith. We have either tried or are tempted to be our own god. We have returned astute from our mis-adventures playing god. Now as heaven waits for us, it is for us to deal with our kind by sharing that despite the evolving world, there is still only one God.
“The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.”
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time