Our faith comes freely from above and our commitment to it is free. We cannot be brainwashed, not by the cleverest advertising, nor the most persuasive social psychology. Love that does not involve self-sacrifice is not love. When we really love someone, we can never do enough for them. And when they are dead no amount of congratulation will persuade us that there was nothing more we could have done. When we have done all these things, we are still unworthy servants, or ‘slaves’ in Luke’s words (Lk 17:10) -we have only done what we ought to do. Good Christian communities sustain us in these commitments, such as families and parishes and schools.
In our own time we are daily conscious of massive immigration and the slaveries that come with it through the hands of unscrupulous people. Christians are in the forefront in trying to help them all. Nobody pretends that there is an easy solution. But in the early nineteenth century abolishing the slave trade was a major commitment of the Evangelical Anglican William Wilberforce who, with many others, less well known, achieved their goal- the parliamentary abolition of slavery in the British Empire (1807) and the further freedom of all slaves in 1833 was also realized in the face of great opposition. It is all about love and respect, isn’t it? Politicians and their supporters too often address this problem in purely economic and political terms. Christians see it as the first Christians saw it: having the mind and heart of Christ Jesus. Jesus had called twelve men asking for their total devotion to himself, to preach freedom and justice in a world of love. They would set the downtrodden free and accept their own suffering. St. Paul later said that Christ had set him free, from the Law and from sin and death, thus Paul’s discipleship. It meant living by love and not abandoning rights. Paul claimed and demanded the privileges of a Roman citizen; he knew his rights.
Today is World Education Day. To have an education is regarded as a human right. We see how appalling it is when such a right is denied or abused. This is especially evidenced in men forbidding women to be educated. One of the most laudable aspects of development in our history is the effort to make education universally available. To encourage and support this at the beginning of the new academic year is why we have an Education Day. Jesus was a teacher and a healer caring for the whole development of every human being. To be his disciple is to identify with this. Amen.
A happy Sunday to you all.
Rev Richard J. Taylor
Spiritual advisor, Matercare International
Boarbank Hall, Cumbria, UK
From the full homily by Father Richard Taylor at: