Sunday 26th July 2020
8th Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 29:15-28; Psalm 105:1-11, 45b; Romans 8:26-39; Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

(Alternatives: Psalm 128; 1 Kings 3:5-12; Psalm 119:129-136)

The world of work again features heavily in this week's readings, particularly the Gospel passage. Although the Genesis story needs to be approached with sensitivity, in relation to how it presents the place of women in an ancient Middle Eastern society, it opens up a significant theme of remuneration and reward. This continues through the Psalms which recount God's reward of peace and prosperity in the land for those who are obedient to Him. This offers a number of potential developments including:

Prayer and reflection on those who are exploited and underpaid in the world of work.

Issues of fair trade and trade justice

On-going industrial disputes and those who work in mediation and conciliation

The work of trade unions, low pay units etc.

The Gospel readings use the world of work to help us explore the values and priorities of God's Kingdom. These might easily be applied to the contemporary workplace:

The image of leaven asks how our presence and influence in the world might achieve the purpose of God's Kingdom. We might particularly note that the leaven needs to be worked into the loaf. So our calling to be a Kingdom people is not realised through remaining separate and isolated within the activities of the church, but engaged in the world around us.

The farmer and the pearl merchant present us with a challenge of what our true priorities are. The purpose of their workplace actions was to realise the treasure of God's Kingdom. We live in a world which will often define the purpose of work simply as the means of achieving economic reward. Work is more than that, it is our engagement with God's on-going creation and sustaining of His world. We too can pursue the priorities of God's Kingdom within our work.

The story of the fishermen reminds us that as a human race we are ultimately accountable to God. Sadly the world of work is littered with examples of individuals and organisations who have lost their sense of accountability, and we can see only too well the danger of allowing economic gain to be the sole driver of human enterprise. The story not only challenges us to conduct our own affairs with a sense of accountability to God, but also reassures those who feel exploited and cheated that God will eventually hold all people to account.

These various stories could also be used as an opportunity to pray for those in the various professions that are featured.