Year C Proper 20: Thick as thieves

An extract from tomorrow’s sermon:

A man was incarcerated in a high security prison on the Isle of Wight, off the southern coast of England. Whilst there, he had fallen under the wings of one of the most notorious criminal families in England, the Krays, south London gangsters with a fearsome reputation. As with many dishonest people, it’s difficult to get to the truth of the story, but it sounds as though this young man somehow charmed the brother of the infamous Kray twins and entered his circle of protection through the prison drug programme. It was always the same way with the family: they looked after their own. Even while they were causing menace and mayhem in south London, the gangsters were known for their kindness to their old mum. If you were one of them, you were safe. If you were one of them, you were protected, for at least as long as the friendship lasted.

 “Make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth, so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into their eternal homes.” Making friends by means of dishonesty – like the corrupt manager, like the Parkhurst prisoner – will earn you favours with those in the know, and this may come with real and tangible benefits. But this is not a story of repentance, of seeing the light and amending a life, and it does not have the same happy ending. Look at the home into which they welcome you: a top security prison; a lifetime of servitude to a selfish rich man. It’s hardly the loving and joyful embrace that welcomed the lost sheep, the lost son.

 No, Jesus tells the tax collectors and sinners, and the money-loving Pharisees, you can’t have it both ways…

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