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  • Sr Siobhán

Fair Trade Not Free Trade

Second Week of Lent – Tuesday

Reading: Matthew 23: 1-12 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fingers long. They love to have the place of honour at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father – the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.


The Gospel of Jesus has much to teach us about workplace justice and the relationship that should exist between employer and employee. Sadly, today many people work long hours in poor working conditions for low wages. They fear the loss of their job if they raise concerns or challenge unjust employers for their just rights. Chief Executive Officers boast of their success, forgetting the plight of those whom they have exploited as ‘they tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.’ The cry of the poor is not heard as the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen as ‘profit over people’ is the maxim professed by many multinational organisations. Status and success are the goal as the feelings of people are ignored; hearts and homes are broken as people try to survive in unjust societies; many become economic migrants to survive, often risking their lives to reach a new land that promises safety and opportunity. So often, the land of opportunity may not be much better than the homeland and people feel alienated and alone in their host country.

Nearer to home, I am challenged by the Gospel to reflect on ways in which I may be a partaker in any form of injustice. I am asked to acknowledge ways in which my dealings with others may not be fair and where I may not act with integrity. I ask myself, ‘Do I support Fair Trade shopping where the rights of workers in developing countries are upheld and honoured or do I choose a cheaper option, ignoring the rights of employees to fair wages and good working conditions? As an employer am I just and fair to all my employees offering them family friendly working policies and opportunities to develop themselves as members of the body of Christ? Do I respect my colleagues and community asking God for the grace to walk in the ways of the Lord each day of my life or does the veil of hypocrisy fall over my heart?

I am called to honour the Fatherhood of God in my life; to live the Gospel with authenticity by learning from him who was ‘gentle and humble in heart´ (Matthew 11:29) I am called to help the poor and all in need, to, ’Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)

Prayer I ask for the grace to act to be just and fair in my dealings with others; to live with integrity; to accept the cost of this decision,

believing that the truth will set me free; May I immerse my heart into the truth of God, this day and always, Amen.


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