Reflection for Wednesday, October 27, 2010: 30th week in Ordinary Time.

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Roedlach, Alex
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Today's reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians made me somehow feeling uneasy. I have no problems with the first part, when Paul encourages children to listen to and follow the instructions of their parents and motivates parents to guide their children to a commitment to our faith. Hardly anyone will have a problem with such words. However, I expected a stronger statement of Paul against slavery, a concept which does not necessarily have to refer literally to slavery, but to any unjust structures in society that allow some to deprive others of their freedom and relegate them to subordinate, inferior, and powerless positions in society. Many examples of such unjust structures came to my mind, such as educational systems that privilege some and exclude others, healthcare systems which do not guarantee health as a human right, economic structures which enable others to accumulate immense wealth while exposing others to a struggle to make ends meet. I was wondering why Paul did not explicitly critique slavery, particularly as the Holy Scriptures are quite explicit in declaring any structure that does not protect the weak and the poor as immoral and deplorable.|Meditating over this text within its wider context of biblical teachings and values, I came to the conclusion that his argument does not contradict such teaching. The fact that Paul does not support unjust and enslaving structures becomes apparent when reading today's Gospel. Paul was clearly exposed to the Gospel's message. Jesus encourages us to "[s]trive to enter through the narrow gate," the entrance to heaven, through which only those can pass, who - as other biblical texts clearly say - protect the weak and the poor and are committed to creating social structures which do not make some more powerful, rich, or valued than others. Belonging to a particular religion or church is not a passport through this narrow gate into heaven. Jesus' parable of the master who does not allow his companions to enter the gate, is a message to his followers - to us - that having an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus, praying regularly, and learning about the faith is not enough. Social involvement rooted in the practice of our faith is what counts in the eyes of God. And perhaps an agnostic or atheist who is committed to social justice is more likely to enter heaven first than we, who go to church on Sundays, read the Bible, and pray regularly!|Keeping this in mind, I re-read the text that says that slaves should be obedient to their masters. The sentence is followed by telling masters not to abuse their slaves and to remember that there is only one master for all. God is the master of all of us. As such, we all are equals and are together on the way to a closer union with God, hoping to pass through the narrow gate into heaven! Thus, the relationships among us humans should reflect that all of us are equals and that it is our Christian duty to commit ourselves to reworking unjust social structures into structures that emphasize equality, fairness, and justice for all. Without calling for a social revolution, Paul declares any justification for any form of slavery as contrary to the Christian faith.|What are forms of slavery around me in my neighborhood, town, state, or nation? What could be my contribution to overcoming them? Many small contributions together can trigger significant change. The sea consists of many drops of water!
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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