September 22, 2014
MONDAY OF TWENTY FIFTH WEEK IN THE ORDINARY TIME
A LAMP UNDER A BOWL: TRANSPARANCY, A GENUINE SIGN OF SPIRITUALITY
We often read in the news papers that the Income Tax Department or Lok Aukta raiding the residences of bureaucrats or contractors and unearthing currency, gold and documents related to financial investments. News papers on August 29, 2014 reported about the arrest warrant issued by the court against two IAS officers, Arvind and Tinu Joshi in a case related to unaccounted property and cash worth of Rs. 46 crores. All those who amass wealth through corrupt practices think that their dealings will not be known to others.
We, human beings, have a tendency to do wrong things secretly, assuming that it will not be known to others. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells his disciple that whatever is hidden will be brought out and whatever is covered up will be brought to light one day or the other. In other words the disciples of Jesus are expected to be transparent in all their dealings and relationships, especially in their financial dealings.
At the same time Jesus also wants that his disciples give visibility to the good works they perform so that people may see them and glorify God. The Catholic Church in India, including the Religious Congregations of women and men, do a lot of charitable, welfare and developmental work for the poor and the underprivileged. Due to the poor public relation and the reluctance to connect with the print and electronic media these good works are very often not known to the general public. Although the dioceses have appointed a priest in charge of public relations, very often they are ineffective due to lack of training and experience. There are many lay people with expertise and experience in the media who can do such work effectively. The church authorities have to identify such lay persons and appoint them as public relations officers of the church institutions and organizations.
One of the best practices followed by some Non-Government Organizations is publishing their annual reports and annual audited statements of account. Very few church institutions make their account public. In some religious congregations the audited statement of account is not shown even to the members. Very often there is a tendency to keep secret the financial matters. Most of the religious organizations are registered as charitable Trusts or Societies. Hence the public have a right to know about the financial matters and the Church Organizations have a responsibility to be transparent in their financial dealings and make them accountable to the public.
What Jesus wants to communicate to his disciples through today’s Gospel is that they have to be transparent in their dealings and relationships and transparency is an essential dimension of spirituality. A spiritual person cannot be but transparent.
Jacob Peenikaparambil CMI