Deacon Tony reflects: them and us

In today’s Scriptures we hear about jealousy, greed and sin.

Moses and Jesus both had followers complaining about people who had not been granted authority; doing God’s work. Moses responded by saying he wished everyone was a prophet and that everyone had been granted the Holy Spirit. Jesus replied by saying ‘if they are not against us then they are for us.

How often do we reject Christian teaching or question the motivation of people doing Christian acts if we do not recognise the authority of the teacher or the one doing the kind act? The motivation of Joshua in the first reading and John in the Gospel may have been well placed, but both Moses and Jesus quashed their observations; allowing the continued spread of the Word of God.

Jesus continued by stating that anyone who helps those who belong to Christ will be rewarded, but those who hinder or harm those with faith will be punished severely.

I sometimes quote Placid Murray; an Irish monk who chaired the committee which translated the Divine Office into English; he says in relation to this week’s Gospel –

Our Lord invites us to enter into life crippled, lame, and with the sight of only one eye, if we wish to be saved. He is really telling us of the restraints we have to put on our hands, our feet and our eyes if we wish to ‘keep ourselves unstained from the world.’ 1

James 1:27

The second reading today is focusing on greed. St James is talking about people who have wealth who try to store it up for themselves. He highlights, the clothes that will rot and be eaten up by moths, they store their precious metals so long that it starts to corrode. He highlights how they will drive down the price of the worker to get themselves a bargain.

In today’s society are we not guilty of some of these things? Consumerism drives down the price of the items we want to buy. Items like clothes are massed produced in far away countries, because (1) those who buy them want them cheap and (2) if they were to be made here in the UK they would not be cheap enough because the factory owners would have to implement health and safety laws, to protect their workers. Why should a worker in a country far away be paid less or have poorer working conditions than we would want our sons and daughters to have?

The buyers for the multi-national companies who supply these goods will move away from one country once they find the next country prepared to subsidise the work or pay their workers lower than the current supplier. In what way is this different from the rich person not paying the labourer their fair wage? For me this is very challenging, but that should be no surprise, Jesus challenges all of us to think about our acts and omissions.

Today we have heard about ‘them’ and ‘us’. Joshua pointing out them who were not with us when we were given authority. The rich ‘us’ who became rich on the back of the hard working ‘them’. The ‘them’ who were not part of ‘us’ who John pointed out to Jesus. Jesus does not want a ‘them’ and ‘us’; Jesus wants everyone to belong, Jesus wants everyone to love because everyone belongs to Jesus and Jesus loves everyone. Again, I am challenged to ask myself who are my ‘us’ and who do I see as ‘them’?

Further Reading

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)2

CCC 821, 1126, 1636: ecumenical dialogue
CCC 2445-2446, 2536, 2544-2547: the danger of immoderate riches
CCC 1852: jealousy

Please keep in your prayers

  • The people of Afghanistan, Haiti, Palma and other crisis areas of the world, that they receive the help they need.
  • God’s creation, that mankind will become better stewards of this world which has been entrusted to us by God
  • Those who are sick, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those seeking a place of safety, that they will be welcomed in Jesus’ name.
  • The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • The families attending the second part of the Baptismal Preparation Programme on Sunday (26th)
  • The Metanoia programme, which continues on Monday (27th), for a Spirit led programme and all those attending.

1 Placid Murray OSB, 100 Liturgical Homilies, (The Columba Press, Dublin, 1988)97.

2 Catechism of the Catholic Church (