To Serve A Better Master

Feast of Agricola and Vitalis

Walters Ms. W.425, Prayer Book (fragment)

Si Abra en este Baldres by Juan del Encina. Performed by Ensemble la Romanesca.

To Serve A Better Master

I would hope that a time will come when the idea of one human being owning another as property will be no more than a distant, and repugnant memory. But as late as the nineteenth century, slave ownership was common in countries that we might otherwise consider civilized.
In the old testament, the law given by god to Moses limited the time that a slave could be kept as property. But if a slave had a wife and children whom he loved, or if he had a good master who provided well for his slave, he could choose to remain the property of his master for life (Exodus 21:6)
In the early days of the church, when Roman law still permitted slave ownership, the epistles recommended to slaves that they accept the rule of their masters as their god-given destiny (Ephesians 6:5, 1 Peter 2:18).
Perhaps Saint Agricola was one of the better masters. It seems that having converted to christianity himself, he won over his slave Vitalis only for both of them to face martyrdom under the persecution of Diocletian, Caesar.
Today, November 4th, is the feast of Agricola and Vitalis. If we are in the position of directing workers, let us remember that they are as human as we are, and treat them with the same respect we would wish to receive were our roles reversed. And if we are in the position of providing service, let us do it as if we work for the person we value most highly in our own lives without regard to how they treat us.

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