The Responsorial (Psalm 67) sings: “O God, let all the nations praise you!”
Leviticus 25: 1-17 gives us one reason, among many, to praise God: the wisdom of his laws; the values they teach for the enhancement of life on earth. The law of the jubilee year made it impossible for a few rich families to acquire all the land, leaving others landless. On the fiftieth year, all land reverted to its original owners. This was God’s way of teaching us that he created the earth for all his children, and wants all his children to enjoy it on equal terms. God is telling us to value people over property.
If only every Christian in every country began, in the spirit of this law, to value people and helping people above all other things, the whole world would be transformed. And in fact, our baptismal consecration as priests commits us to make our every interaction with every person in our life an act of ministry. If we think of ourselves primarily as salespeople, managers, technicians, investors, entrepreneurs, moneymakers, pastors or bishops, without clearly ordering and subordinating all these activities to the good of other people, we simply have not accepted to be what God calls us to be. Our basic identity is to be Christ, to let him continue his life and mission in us as Prophet, Priest and King until the “reign of God” is established over every area and activity of human life on earth. If we just make ministering to people our first priority 24/7, the whole world will soon cry out, “O God, let all the nations praise you!”
In Matthew 14: 1-12 we see a frightening image of ourselves. We would probably not cut off a man’s head just so we would look good by fulfilling a rash, drunken promise as Herod did. But we cut off people’s income to merge companies for more profit; we cut people’s lives short by choosing pollution over the cost of prevention (and cut our own lives short by smoking). We kill babies by abortion rather that face the consequences of uncommitted pleasure. We kill those condemned as criminals by cold-blooded execution rather than pay the cost (and accept the presumed risk) of trying to rehabilitate them.
We cut the poor out of a proportionate share in planetary income by letting profits dominate policies, foreign and domestic; we go to war knowing we will kill both combatants and civilians to protect our “national interests” — which tend to be predominately the economic interests of the rich and powerful. In chronic ways we sacrifice people to prosperity, and the good of other nations to our self interest. People say, “The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer,” and whether it is true or not, it is hard to find strong, dedicated and voluntary movements in business circles to counteract this trend (although there are some, and we should not forget that). In any predominately Christian country, the existence of a large poor population proves that Christians’ consecration to ministry is not yet our conscious focus in all we do. But we have a reminder in Eucharistic Prayer IV: “that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him” (and others).
Initiative: Be a priest. Absorb the meaning in the Eucharistic Prayers.