Much will be demanded from those who have received much!

October 20, 1999

Romans 6, 12-18 + Luke 12, 38-49

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Because grace is freely offered to us, does this mean we can sin with abandon and impunity, certain of God's forgiveness? This is the question Paul asks, and thereby notes a problem for the first Christians that we share today. No, he answers, if you are a servant of righteousness, that is how you must live. In fact, he tells us that by our works is how others will know who we serve: do we serve God with works of righteousness, wisdom, and beauty, or do we serve Satan with works of wickedness, evil, and death? He's not making a casual observation, it's not a writer's "throw-away" line, rather, our behavior indicates at a fundamental level who we serve, who is the owner of our hearts, to whom we have consecrated our lives. As the old joke goes, if you were arrested for being a Catholic Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Paul writes that because we are redeemed by righteousness, sin should not reign over our mortal bodies. He talks about the power of sin and how this power has been broken by Christ. What we think, and what we do, makes a difference. Nobody can stop the wicked impulse from creeping into your mind -- but through Christ we have the power to resist, we don't have to say that hateful word. We don't have to buy stock in that corporation that exploits the poor.

We often like to think that our religion stops at the church door, and doesn't enter into our economic life, but that's not what Paul says. If we piously go to Church on Sunday, and then turn around on Monday and do the works of wickedness in our life in the world, then we didn't pay much attention to what we heard and received on Sunday. The call to a "Separation of Church and Economics" is not the call of the Gospel, rather, it is the siren song of Satan and his evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Today Luke continues to teach us about the Good and Faithful Steward. Who is this person? The one who is always ready for the Lord, whether he comes early or late, he is to be found doing his duties in righteousness. He does not oppress others -- he uses no violence -- he is not a thief. Those who are called and who know the Master's will, but do not do His will, are to be cast out and punished. Those who are ignorant, and do not do the Master's will, are to be punished only lightly. Jesus teaches us today: Much is required from those who have been entrusted with much. Those who have more will have more demanded of them.

We must read these words with concern, for there is perhaps no other nation in the history of the world that has received so much as the United States of America. How have we used our power and wealth? To murder millions of innocent children, to rig the marketplace so that the poor are at a disadvantage -- our economy and our politics today are based on the glorification of the Seven Deadly Sins of Pride, Covetousness, Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, and Sloth. "In God we Trust" may be on our money, but it is blasphemy. The Master is delayed in his coming, so we riot and beat the servants, break into the supply room and have a party with property that belongs to others. We steal the inheritance and birthright of our children to satisfy our demand for instant gratification.

A pilgrimage is a spiritual journey, going from "here" to "there" with purpose. Let these words today be a call to leave the City of Wickedness for the City of God, and may our actions be in accordance with the journey that we have undertaken.

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