22Sep 22 September, 2019. 25th Sunday (C)

1st Reading: Amos 8:4-7

God is concerned for justice and fair play

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Responsorial: Psalm 112:1-2, 4-8

Response: Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

Praise, O servants of the Lord,
praise the name of the Lord!
May the name of the Lord be blessed
both now and for evermore! (R./)

High above all nations is the Lord,
above the heavens his glory.
Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
yet stoops from the heights to look down,
to look down upon heaven and earth? (R./)

From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
from the dungheap he raises the poor
to set him in the company of princes,
yes, with the princes of his people. (R./)

2nd Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

We pray for everyone, including politicians, hoping that all will be saved

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all-this was attested at the right time. For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument;

Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

You cannot serve God and wealth

[ or, shorter version: 16:10-13]

Jesus said to the disciples,
“There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’

So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’

And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.”

“Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?”

“No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”


Filthy Lucre?

A schoolboy was asked to write an essay on “The adventures of a pound note.” Nowadays it would be the history of a fifty-euro note. On average, banknotes have a life-span of just over twelve months. After passing through many hands, they are recalled and incinerated. It would be fascinating to follow the new banknote’s uses from the moment it came fresh and crisp off the mint until its burning in the incinerator, some twelve months later. Every crease, every stain on it, would have a tale to tell. It passed through wallets and purses, pockets and handbags. Only God knows where it has been and what it was been spent. It has its joyful mysteries and its sorrowful mysteries. It might even have its glorious moments. Has it been used to buy a fix of heroin or cocaine, or to bribe someone to secure a contract? Was it ever picked from a pensioner’s pocket? It could as easily have bought medicine for a sick child or education for someone from a poor family. It could have been an anonymous donation to a worthy cause. It could have been somebody’s gift to a neighbour worse off than themselves. It could have been sent to the Third World and fed a whole family there for a week.

Many worry about devaluation and shrinking purchasing power as they recall what money could buy when they were young. But in a sense what really devalues money is if we make bad use of it. “Use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends,” said Jesus, “and when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” The rich can be casual about money, but in tenements and shanty-towns around the world, even the price of a meal can be a precious and elusive thing. Oscar Wilde said that a cynic is “one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” A Christian should be the reverse: one who has less interest in the price of a thing than in its true value.

No pockets in a shroud

“The love of money is the root of all evil” says St Paul. He did not call money itself the root of all evil, but rather the love of money. Of course money is needed as a means of exchanging goods in every organised society. But a person can become its slave through excessive love of money. It can become a substitute for God in one’s life. In George Bernard Shaw’s play, Major Barbara, when the rich industrialist was asked what was his religion he answered, “Why, I’m a millionaire. That’s my religion!” but life is far more precious than the money we have, the food we eat or the clothes we wear. Possessions are only on loan to us, and in time we must leave them all behind. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,” (Job 1:21), “and naked shall I return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.”

The parable of the Unjust Steward is about the fair and just use of money. Great personal wealth is rarely acquired without some sharp practice, and so Jesus regards money as somehow tainted. The laws and structures of society still seem to cater not so much to the common good but to the benefit of the wealthy and the priveleged few. We need to keep in mind the words of Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the merciful, blessed are those who strive for justice.” This brings true fulfilment and the greatest reward of all, the friendship of God for all eternity. Deep down, we know that there are no pockets in a shroud.

Níl Póca ar bith i dTaiséadach

D’fhoilsigh Íosa rábhadh i dtaobh dea úsáid airgid ag tagairt do fáithscéal  an ” Maor Éagórach”.  Ní thagann saibhreas gan gliceas agus bhí Íosa amhrasach faoi. Deineann dlithe agus iompar na linne seo beag is fiú d’úsáid cóir airgid agus bíonn na bochtáín thíos leis. Ba chirte béim a bheith ar chomhairle Íosa.  “Is aoibhinn dos na boctaibh sa spioraid, mar is leo ríocht na bhflaitheas. Is aoibhinn do lucht na trócaire a dhéanamh, mar is iad a gheobhaidh trócaire. Is aoibhinn do lucht na síochána a dhéanamh mar is orthu a thabharfar clann Dé”. Is sa ráiteas seo a aimsítear ceann scríbe agus an dlaoi mullaigh na beatha, mar gur buan é caradas Chríost. Tuigtear dúinn uile nach bhfuil bealach éalaithe as an bpeaca againn iar bháis.

2 Responses

  1. Martin Neary

    How could Jesus commend dishonest behaviour in the unjust steward? Do we now recommend the defrauding of employers by employees? Thou shalt not steal? Is Jesus advocating stealing from the wealthy?

    Wealth is often accumulated in this world by hard work and moderate spending habits.Do we now advocate that the lazy and/or profligate poor are justified in defrauding the wealthy? The idle and those who pay for nothing in our Society will take great solace from this gospel.

    Martin Neary. 30 August 2019

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Jesus tells us to use our wits and show a little initiative. Canny capitalists never lose an opportunity for profit, but the children of light are often dopey and ineffectual.

    The Church sets the parable in the context of social justice by pairing it with the first reading.

    Many want a systematic catechetical structure to the series of Sunday homilies, and that may be a good idea. But this need not mean a return to the myopic focus on individual sins and pieties of pre-Vatican II preaching. The social responsibility of the Church and the communal dimension of its sacramental life would need to be taught clearly.

    As a community we should be growing in the ability to read the signs of the times and to respond creatively. The worldwide climate protests led by young people are a model of what Christian action could and should look like.

    Cardinal Joseph Cardijn’s methodology of ‘See, Judge, Act’ was taken up by St John XXIII in his encyclical Mater et Magistra and can serve as a basic means of reading the ‘signs of the times’ (Mt 16:3) as urged by Vatican II. The Instrumentum Laboris for the forthcoming Amazon Synod follows this methodology, beginning with a close examination of the situation of the Amazon region (which occupies two fifths of the territory of Brazil) and with an effort to listen to the voices of its inhabitants. The theme that is first stressed is that of life—the life of the natural habitat, of the diverse species, of the human communities, at the level of material welfare and of spiritual communion, including communion with the living God.
    This point of departure has outraged the noisy critics of Pope Francis, who flourish in the social media rather than in actual worshiping communities. Cardinal Gerhard Müller steps forward as their leader. While those whose thinking is imbued with the spirit of Vatican II and who have also learned from liberation theology will easily grasp the theological sanity of the Instrumentum Laboris, Müller claims that its basic terms are obscure and unintelligible: ‘What is meant by a synodal path, by integral development, what is meant by a Samaritan, missionary, synodal, open Church?’ God, he insists, ‘now tells the successors of the Apostles to lead the faithful out of sin and apart from the godlessness of secularist naturalism and immanentism.’ He sneers at the Pope’s remark that ‘Grace supposes culture’—‘As if he himself had discovered this axiom – which is of course a fundamental axiom of the Catholic Church herself’—instead of simply complimenting the Pope on his judicious application of a classical Catholic idea. Müller claims to detect heresy: ‘If here a certain territory is being declared to be a “particular source of God’s Revelation,” then one has to state that this is a false teaching, inasmuch as for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition are the only sources of Revelation.’ So much for Jesus’s assurance that the Spirit will ‘lead you into all truth’ (Jn 16:13). As Prefect of the CDF Müller claimed to provide Pope Francis with a theological framework, yet it is clear that the theological framework of Vatican II is far more comprehensive than Müller’s.

    Missiological reflection on inculturation has influenced the Instrumentum Laboris, which urges appreciation of the various ancestral ‘cosmovisions’ of the Amazon, to form ‘a church that lives its faith through an inculturated liturgy, a church that carries out its life in the indigenous worldview, whether within local communities or in openness to urban evangelization, a church open to interreligious dialogue, a church that intends to use the media at the service of integral human promotion and wants to assume more and more a prophetic role in society.’ Let us pray that the proceedings of the Synod (6-27 October) will realize this promise in a rich and powerful way.

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