20 Sep 2019 | Posted by: chadmin
Last weekend, we heard of the tax collectors and sinners all drawing near to listen to Jesus. Jesus once said, “those who are well don’t need a physician, but the sick do.” Jesus talked much more about spiritual sickness than he did about physical illness. Christ constantly invited His listeners to ponder how the interior life of the person related to interior life or death. The relationship of a life of virtue or vice to our own goal of getting to heaven is something for us all to ponder. This week we have several scripture passages that call us to ponder on our relationship to financial things of the world.
It is a bit humorous that I am giving the annual parish financial update at Masses this weekend, when the readings talk about the importance of financial responsibility. One passage in scripture says that “the love of money is the root of all evils,” I Timothy 6:10. The passages this weekend about our individual relationship with money invites us into balance. In all things in life we need balance. We obviously exist within a culture that requires we work to earn money and exist within an economy that allows us to care for our family and loved ones. Money itself is not bad or evil, it is the human approach to money that can be evil. Anything that exists within this world is not to be an end in itself. If we put our happiness and end goal in achieving wealth, our relationship with God and one another suffers. Money, wealth, and possessions need to be a means to our service of God and neighbor and not an all-consuming source of personal protection or glory.
The first reading from the Prophet Amos tells of people complaining about days and times, the Sabbath, when they were unable to earn a profit. In retribution for times off from earning, they plotted to cheat others in their future sales to make up for their perceived losses. The acquiring of personal wealth took precedence to fairness and justice. The Lord swore, “never will I forget.” The Gospel contains a parable about a dishonest steward who used the wealth of his master for his own benefit. The steward proceeds to re-negotiate what is owed from his clients to his master. The same message comes from the Prophet Amos and from this Gospel passage, “the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” A life ordered toward heaven requires consistency.
This passage contains one of the more interesting passages in the Gospel. After being caught in cheating the master, by re-negotiating the promissory notes, the master commends the dishonest steward for acting prudently. What might appear as approval for this type of action from Jesus is instead a rebuke for relying on things of this world for your salvation. All of us will deal with people being dishonest to us or cheating in some way. If we don’t put all our faith and hope in the people or things of this world, we won’t be devastated by injustice. A proper focus on Christ and eternal life helps us sift through the realities of this world. We want to hope and pray for justice in this world, but our hearts and minds are properly focused on heaven, the only place that is perfectly just. We are all called to do our best in life, to use our gifts and talents to provide a life in our culture, but the Bible encourages us to not rely on money or possessions as providing more safety and security than God Himself. A life of balance allows us to use the things of this world for other things of this world, while not being used or consumed ourselves. Have a great week.