25th Sunday C
18th September 2022
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“No servant can be the slave of two masters”
Apparently, the price of an ad on The Toy Show this Christmas is €86k. The amount of money spent on sales and marketing is extraordinary. The reason and justification isthat it’s worth it – it works, it’s effective because the returns are not just good but in some instances huge. You and I, the people, stand between the marketeer and the profit margin. They know we have some resources by way of money and the sales and marketing people know we have needs, through the ads they join the dots and get us to part with our cash or in many cases give us credit for our purchases.
Amos, the prophet, paints a bleak picture of the trader as one who can’t wait for the sacred times to pass to get busy, not just with sales but with sharp practice, fiddling with weights and jacking up the prices. Invariably the poor and needy are their victims. It sounds a lot like the global economy right now where the disturbance of war, climate change and economic turmoil provides a new opportunity for the poor and needy of the earth to be exploited again by the big players. In the midst of the worldwide turmoil, we have, thankfully, some in leadership who seek to ensure that the plight of the poor and needy are met in some measure.
The extraordinary scandal in the midst of the vast expenditure on weapons is that some millions of people will die of famine in the coming months. Our world order is weighted so heavily in favour of rich nations that all that remains for so many of the poorer nations are the crumbs from our tables. That’s systemic injustice – the injustice, unfairness and greedare built into it. Over this global reality most of us are powerless.
But there is also justice, fairness and integrity on a personal level where we have power, control and responsibility. So much of our society is driven by marketing and advertising. It sustains the media in all its forms – there would be no Tik Tok, Meta etc without it. Its sole end is consumption in all its forms. The levels of consumption have grown so explosively that it is choking us spiritually, emotionally and physically. It has led to what one writer described as “abundance thinking”. We really need to think differently again.
The Gospel speaks of the one who can be trusted in small things, will be trusted with bigger things too. That’s where our personal spiritual understanding is so important. It shapes our thinking and behaviour. It looks like we need to abandon our “abundance thinking” and begin or continue to plan for scarcity and sustainable living. For the older generation that’s not so hard to imagine because they grew up in families where scarcity was a constant companion and a culture of disposal or obsolescence hadn’t yet taken hold.
But what can I do we all can ask ourselves? The one who can be trusted with little things, will be trusted with bigger things too.