Our readings deal with faith and justice. In the first the prophet scarifies those who in pride and wealth harden their hearts against God. Paul recounts similar persecutions in preaching the truth. Christ is shocked at the lack of faith among his own people. Lets confess ways we shut out God too..
There’s a story told of an African priest during apartheid. Asked to preach at a “Christian” service he accepted only on the condition that colored members of the congregation be allowed in. Prejudice was so rife, some ministers gave communion to coloured people out the window. We neednt go to Africa for unChristian practice. I remember in Ireland when dues were read out in church. Poor people who gave only 10 shillings were humiliated; the rich owned pews in churches, one dare not sit in their priveleged seats. But that’s not new. Christ himself met with similar snobbery. The fiercest unbelivers were in his own town, he was just the carpenter’s son. He himself treated all as equal. Were he alive during apartheid, I’m sure hed have pulled many a pastors head out the window and scarified those who attended to the big shot in church while ignoring the poor. Christ soundly rebuked the apostles for keeping the so-called riff-raff away from him; he made those despised by the world his special care.
So should we. Rather than judge people according the ways of a cold, money-adoring world, Christ went to sinners and prostitutes. He said they’d enter the kingdom of God before the rich who with their heads in the air have no time for God or neighbour. Nor did he endure holy snobs. He saw the worst form of sin as self-righteousness, thinking ourselves better or holier than others. Christ, the holiest person ever, washed his disciples feet. He was turned way by the rich, was born in a stable, and was a travelling preacher with nowhere to lay his head. He was poor in spirit so that he could serve the poor.
The challenge for us is to do the same, to make no distinction between man and man, woman and woman, child and child. To respect the god-given dignity of each person whatever his or her state in life. “Let not a man guard his dignity”, the famous philospher Emerson said, “but let his digity guard him”. We can do much harm to peoples dignity by prejudice, casting out such as the poor, the disabled or travellers. Church leaders must take this lesson too. There’s more than one way to give communion out of the window, more than one way to humiliate the disadvantaged, more than one way to pander to the rich and turn our faces from the needy. Some say the abuse scandals were about power. We can all fall into this trap. Look at the adoration of pop stars who turn out to have clay feet in the end and are destroyed by our adoration. As one theologian noted, the main temptation we all fail over and over again is that Christ faced in the desert. To put pride, wealth and power before service of God. In the desert Christ chose to be a suffering servant of all.
The church is humiliated now because it failed to act like Christ. As an old man said to be recently, we kept priests too fat. Certainly, with palaces, wealth and unfeeling institutions, the church of the past was more like the Pharisees than Christ In this, however, none of us need be smug. We all at times connive in injustice, and despise the weak. We all fail to imitate the carpenter’s son who was raised by God. The more we imitate his humility the higher we’ll be raised too. For the world’s gods of power, wealth and fame turn to ashes at last but Christ is lord of all inclusive faith, love and goodness for this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people keeping a true and humble sense of our worth, and cherishing all God’s child equally, we profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
And as God’s children we pray for what we need..
For church leaders throughout the world, especially the Pope and bishops, that they may come down from their palaces and be one with the poor and suffering Christ..
For civil leaders that they may not indulge in corruption and misuse of public funds but use taxpayers money to serve all the people of God, especially the poor and underpriveleged..
For our youth that they may not put their whole trust in wealth, fame and power but cherish the deeper Christian idealism of faith and humble service of God and others, especially the needy..
For ourselves in our homes that we may treat all our children with equal love and fairness, and reach out to the needy around us with the compassion and unprejudiced care of Christ..
For the sick, the aged and the lonely that through our finding of time for them they may know the love of God in their lives..
For the dead, especially those holy souls who may have no one to pray for them, that they may come to the all-embracing arms of Christ and the heavenly home where all wrongs are righted..
We ask all these our prayers through Christ to God the only and equally-loving Father of all his chidren, amen.
The great inditement of snobbery in the Gospel is the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives and his brothers feasted every day and were indifferent to Lazarus, a poor man at their gate covered in sores who begged only the crumbs from their table. Then both Dives and Lazarus died. The rich man went to hell and the poor man to heaven where where he finally received the justice denied him on earth. Its a warning to all who trust in riches and grand houses, and ignore God and their neighbour. Lets ask Mother Mary to help us to be always open to God and others whatever our circumstances..Hail Mary