Saturday, July 30, 2011

Business as religion

To us, the first reading today from Leviticus about calculation of jubilee years and the buying and selling of property can seem confusing, antiquated, and disconnected from our modern world. At its heart, however, it touches something that is critical for us at this moment.

We tend unreflectively to separate our faith from our work and especially from the world of business and finance. How often do we hear someone say, "The CEO's primary obligation is to his shareholders."

Today's first reading reminds us that as far back as the mosaic law, the primary obligation even in the world of buying and selling is to God. God knows his creatures and how easily we can fall into the sin of greed.
And so God from the beginning established a moral framework to remind us that profit was not and is not the highest good.

From the Torah through the Gospels to the latest papal encyclicals it is clear that the welfare and dignity of the human person and our society must take priority of place. Making large profits and being rich are not sins. But sometimes the way we get there is.

From the least paid worker to the CEO this reading reminds us, that in business, ultimately we do not answer to a supervisor or a shareholder but to God.