NA ME BE DE MASTER: A HOMILY ON SPY WEDNESDAY
Permit me to use a bad example to explain something good. In Nigeria, we have people we call 419ers. They are so-called because the violate the constitution of the country number 419, which prohibits all forms of scam. These scammers often call their victims ‘Master’ or ‘Madam’ as the case may be. The interesting thing about this title is that it makes the victim feel respected and honoured. What the victim does not know is that the real master is the one calling him master. He will call you master because he knows he will be the master at the end of the day.
Today, in our first reading, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord as having opened his ears. In the Jewish culture of those days, if you see anyone whose ears are opened, you will know that person is a slave. The ear is opened as a mark of identification. A slave is like the property of the master, because the master bought the slave, just like someone can buy a radio, a phone, a TV, a car, etc. Just as the phone, TV, car, etc cannot decide when they want to work and when they want to rest, so also the slave has no opinion what so ever. Isaiah is saying that he has become a slave to the Lord, but this kind of slavery should not be understood in a negative way. What it means is that he belongs, not to himself but to the Lord. It also means that he has no say in what he will do, when he will do it, and how he will do it. It is all about what the Lord and Master says. If the Lord says so, the slave has no choice. This is not a forced slavery but a voluntary slavery and we are all called to allow the Lord to open our ears, as a sign or His ownership of us. It will also be a sign of our readiness to listen, to listen and to obey exactly what the Lord says. This is the mission of Jesus on earth.
If we don’t do this we will become like Judas in the gospel who calls Jesus “Master”, but is about to sell Jesus like a slave. This is why today is called Spy Wednesday, even though it is not an official designation. It is so-called because the readings today tell us of the secret plan of Judas to betray his Master. This is very ironical. He calls Jesus Master, but only a slave can be sold. You cannot put a price tag on a human being, unless that person is a slave. One bitter part of his betrayal is that he makes Jesus his slave and makes himself the master, because only the owner of the slave can sell his own slave. Do we call Jesus master and make him our slave? What will the world offer us that will make us give up Jesus. We are to choose to be like Judas in the gospel who turns Jesus to a slave, or to be like Isaiah in the first reading who willingly decides to submit himself to the reign of Christ, who willingly chose to be a slave, with an open hear, only ready to do what the Lord says.