Sometimes people like to say religion is old fashioned, what does it have to offer. You wouldn’t get that impression if you listen to the Gospel reading of today’s mass. The message that we hearing is right up to date. The message is all about honesty and dishonesty, truth and lies. The very thing that the Supreme Court in London is dealing with. The very thing across the water in America that they are discussing regarding the American president – honesty and dishonesty, truth and lies.
The message comes in that parable. Here is s the story. The dishonest servant has been dismissed for dishonest practices and before that happens he sets about to win friends that he might need after by tinkering with the accounts. He does this so they in turn might do him favours afterwards. shady practices, further dishonesty. Jesus commenting on this says that is how the children of this world behave, this is the way they do things. Instead for his followers, honesty is the best policy, the person who is trustworthy in small things can be trusted with greater things, the person who is dishonest in small things will be dishonest in greater things. If you cannot be trusted to deal with things that belong to you, who will trust you with things that are not your own. If you cannot be trusted, for example to deal with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you to deal with things that are real treasures.
Truth and honesty seems to be what the Gospel reading is all about.
But that previous reading from Amos is about the same message.The upright people, those who seem to be keeping the Law are called out by Amos. In his day all seems ok on the surface , but not really so. They can’t wait till the to trample the poor and needy. They can’t wait till religious festivals are over, till the sabbath is over, to get on with the business of selling things. They raise their prices, tamper with the scales. They buy up people’s property that have fallen on hard times, they buy them as slaves or indentured servants for the price of a pair of sandals. Shady practices, dishonest ways, lies and deceit seem to be the order of the day.
Truth and honesty, lies and deceit.
It would be fair to say that we all need truth and honesty. Its hard to deal with the person who is two faced, who says one thing and believes another; who tells one thing to someone and tells something completely different to someone else. Its hard to deal with a person who lies, know that they are lying, doesn’t care that they are lying, but lies all the same – for their own benefit. Its hard to deal with the person who sets out to deceive, to pull the wool over your eyes – who maybe even lies to themselves and doesn’t own up to the truth or who no longer knows what the truth is.
One of the dangers of the present times and one of the worrying things in the moment is that it doesn’t seem to matter if you are telling a lie. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are not telling the truth. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are deceiving people. The only thing that is important is the you don’t get caught. And if you do get caught then lie some more, brazen it out.
If there is no truth, there is no justice. If there is no truth then tyranny, lies and corruption will reign. It turns people’s hearts. A world without truth is a very dangerous world. A world of lies is a world in which all sorts of demons are released into the world.
Truth and honesty turn the world the right way uo. You can deal with people who tell the truth. People who tell the truth don’t need to have two faces. People who tell the truth won’t deceive you. People who speak the truth can be believed. People who tell the truth have no need to tell another lie to follow on from the one they have just told.
People like to say that religion is a bit old fashioned, but it deals with things that are important. It confronts us with things that never go away. Human beings are not just people who eat drink, sleep and talk. We are moral beings who are confronted with moral decision – what is the right way to go, what is the wrong way, what is truth and what is lies. Religion is in the business of sorting these things out and confronting us with big truths in life.
We are constantly faced with this in daily life. We see it in big moments like the climate marches, what’s going on in the Supreme Ct, what is happening across the water in America. How we want our lives to be led, how we want our world to be.
Truth or lies, honesty or dishonesty – what is it to be?