25th Sunday of the Year (c) 2016 I remember seeing a film years ago called ‘Cabaret’. There was singing and dancing in it; and one of the lines in a song was ‘money makes the world go round’. I mention that because money is mentioned in our readings today and particularly the gospel, but in a different way; ‘you cannot be the slave of God and of money.’ So, here’s a clash of values: one says money makes the world go round the other, that we are not to be slaves of money. And yet money is something we all need; whether we have vows of poverty or not. We need to pay our bills, buy food, buy all sorts of things. So, you could say that money is a necessary evil. And yet, it can do a lot of good as well. In the right hands money can help people. I celebrated a jubilee recently and people gave me money. I bought a watch with it. I lost my last one some months ago. Everyone knows the saying ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’. Notice it is not money in itself that is the root of all evil but the love of it. Love of money can lead to corruption. We’ve seen far too much of that in recent years, in our banks and big businesses; institutions that we once trusted have in some cases let us down. Money in the bank was always considered to be safe. Not any more. Some banks have even closed due to greed. I think many will remember a man called Nick Leeson, who worked in the Far East and managed to, single handedly, bring down Britain’s oldest bank. No one challenged him, because he was making a lot of money for the bank. But in the end, it all went terribly wrong. He went to prison and his marriage broke up. We know another expression, ‘money does not bring us happiness’ or is there a ‘necessarily’ in there somewhere? I was in a taxi recently. And as is my wont, I got talking to the driver. He said that if he ever wrote a book, the title would be ‘How bankruptcy saved my life’. How extraordinary. I know of other people who went bankrupt and went the other way: some even took their lives. The taxi driver explained that before the financial crash he was a wealthy man, with a lot of property. As a result he lived the life of a high flier. He smoked and drank to excess and gambled large sums of money. But since he went bankrupt he has had to give up drinking and smoking, consequently he is a lot fitter, and now he has time for his family. He has learned a valuable lesson. He now realizes that there are somethings in life that are much more important than money. Money won’t buy you friends. Didn’t the Beatles sing, ‘can’t buy me love’. No, it can’t buy me friends, and can’t buy me love. It can however, buy me a lot of problems. I suppose one could argue the absence of money can also cause problems. But the gospel talks about money in the context of trust; ‘if you then cannot be trusted with money…who will trust you with genuine riches?’ Notice the implication: that money isn’t genuine riches? True richness, true wealth, has to do with values, and often values that you can’t see. I went to a locksmith in Preston, ‘Collins and Son’, Lancaster Rd. I wanted some keys cut. So he cut one but wasn’t sure if it would be ok. He told me he wouldn’t charge me, but go home and see if the key would fit, then come back and he’d cut the other two when I came back, then I could pay. I was struck by his trust. As a result I will always go back there again. I was in London, in upmarket Mayfair, looking for somewhere to have a cheap lunch. Fat chance. However, I eventually found a sandwich bar. I ordered a take away. Was about to pay when the owner said no; he saw me with a roman collar on, and, I don’t know if he was a catholic or not, but he wouldn’t accept any payment. I won’t forget this gesture either. It made me feel good, not just that I had saved money, in fact that wasn’t an issue, it was how good human nature can be. How generous people can be. And this is true richness. Kindness and generosity are worth more than silver and gold. And the person who has these qualities may not have much money, but they are rich in other more important ways. The wealthy man or woman may have many fair weather friends. When the money runs out so do the so called friends. I read recently about a famous professional footballer, who played for one of the top London clubs, and capped many times for England, but who is now homeless. Where are his friends now that he needs them? And I’m not talking about Paul Gasgoigne. No, money won’t buy you friends. But kindness and generosity will. The person who others trust, whose word is their bond, who never cheats or tells lies, is indeed a rich person. This is what Christ is trying to teach us this morning. We wouldn’t have so many problems in our banks and big institutions if the message of Christ was listened to more and put into practice. ‘You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’

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