Today the readings are full of challenges for us as Christians. The way of the world, the way of power, of wealth, and of influence, is presented as being in opposition to the way of God. God breaks into our world to disturb the status quo. We see Jesus in the Gospels really upsetting the Jewish people and their leaders. Jesus is just as challenging today. The Gospel values of radical generosity of myself to others and God is in direct competition with the message of affluent self-care that bombards us.
However, there are parts of our culture that resonate with the Gospel message. A part of our culture that speaks to me of the innate goodness of the Gospels is the values of Ubuntu. A colleague defined Ubuntu for me: “Ubuntu is not a theoretical word, it is a practical word and it comes to be only in the moment in which all the parties participate in its creation.”
Each of us encounters the temptation to become corrupt regularly. It may not be the “big” corruption of stealing millions, or taking bribes. It may only be in small things, using work supplies at home, not paying for my water or electricity, and not paying taxes. Yet, whether it is by presenting shoddy work, not caring for the client in front of me, or taking a bribe, we rob something from our common humanity when we behave unethically.
Pope Francis speaks directly “to those who either perpetrate or participate in corruption.” He invites to “conversion even more fervently to those whose behaviour distances them from the grace of God”. He poignantly shows us how damaging corruption is, calling it “a festering wound that cries out to heaven for vengeance because it threatens the very foundations of personal and social life. Corruption prevents us from looking to the future with hope, because its tyrannical greed shatters the plans of the weak and tramples upon the poorest of the poor. It is an evil that embeds itself into the actions of everyday life and spreads causing great public scandal.” (Misericordiae Vultus 19)