25th. Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“How To Be An Astute Steward Of The Goods Of This World.”
“Christ is the defender of all who are sacrificed to the ‘god’ of money, who are manipulated for economic gain. His sacrifice was a ransom for them all”.
Were the rich of the time of Amos shrewd people, because they increased their wealth by cheating and exploiting the poor, without respecting the ‘holy days’, busying themselves only with their selfish interests? In the sight of people they were certainly so, but in the sight of God they just ruined themselves. This is what the first reading is teaching us.
Jesus is telling us in the Gospel that one is ‘truly shrewd’ when one uses the goods of this world to help others. In this way a person can acquire the only thing that counts: the friendship of the poor.
To understand this truth which is so difficult to accept, we need prayer and this is what Paul tells us in the second reading.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Allow the Spirit of God to break the chains that keep us from understanding and accepting the word of God.
Amos, a sheep-farmer in Tekoa, a small town five miles from Bethlehem, receives a calling from God to leave his flocks and become a prophet. Amos lived about 750 years before the coming of Christ. Israel was having a very prosperous time: its territory extended all the way to the mountains of Lebanon, famous for their enormous cedar trees, so precious and necessary to make ships and palaces. King Jeroboam II was a capable politician: he had improved the economy, religion was flourishing and the temples were full of pilgrims who prayed and offered sacrifices.
God sends Amos to the Northern kingdom of Israel, a society that is sharply and cruelly divided between the rich and the poor. Through the voice of Amos, the invisible God speaks to his people. The prophet is unimpressed by the fancy liturgies and the solemn assemblies. He confronts the serious problem of social injustice. In today’s first reading he ridicules those who can’t wait until the religious festivals are over so that they can get back to their real devotion, the ‘exploitation of the poor and needy’. What is the point of impressive liturgies that feed the egoism of the rich and powerful while keeping the poor as the permanent prisoners and victims of an unjust system? When liturgy becomes the ally of ‘oppression’, it becomes an affront to God. When the worship of God remains isolated and uncritical of what is happening in an unjust society, it becomes a privileged theatre signifying absolutely nothing of true value in the eyes of God. For the prophet Amos, the best liturgical music is when justice sounds throughout the land.
Amos feels passionately against injustice and exploitation. Through him God lends his voice to the agony of the poor who are plundered. Amos calls the people back to wholeness of life and to solidarity as ‘one people’ under God. He tells them that they cannot enjoy the protection of God while living off the misery of the poor. The prophecies of Amos are about condemnation and destruction. There isn’t much room for repentance, which is why the school of Amos has few adherents today. Of course Amos was right in what he had to say and it still applies to us almost 3000 years later. The rich continue to trample upon the poor, and we fail to see that God cannot be deceived by superficial pieties. Religion and greed cannot worship in the same pew. Don’t we regularly bear witness today to situations similar to those denounced by Amos?
Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8.
The Psalm is the first of the ‘Hallel’ psalms sung at the great festivals (Mk 14:26). Its language recalls ancient hymns of praise for God like the canticle of Moses (Ex 15:11). It quotes from the canticle of Hannah the characteristic, which distinguishes Israel’s God from other deities, namely his concern for the poor (1 Sm 2:8).
1 Timothy 2:1-8.
Paul recommends that ‘petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be offered for everyone, for kings and others in authority’. These are the people responsible for the well-being of society and if they do not perform their duties well, we are not able to live peaceful and quiet lives, with all devotion and propriety. The prayer of the Christian community is ‘universal’: it is addressed to God for both the good and the wicked, for friends and enemies alike, because God, in his great compassion does not make any distinction based on race, tribe, nationality, social class, intelligence and wealth. ‘God wants everyone to be saved and to reach full knowledge of the truth’. Are our hearts and our prayers truly universal i.e. for all people friends and foes alike?
Jesus tells an unusual parable, which at first glance, appears to support dishonesty. A steward who manages his master’s estate is accused of wasting his employer’s goods; he is dismissed, but before he goes he must submit his final account. Stewards usually behaved like agents or tax collectors: they were expected to hand over to their masters a certain fixed amount, whatever more they could collect remained their commission.
The steward now plans his future for he is about to join the ranks of the unemployed and he is unsure how he will survive. He realizes that he cannot resort to manual labour. Instead, he calls in all those who owe his master and deals with them one by one. He makes them an offer that they can’t refuse by reducing their debts; by the time he is finished, a number of merchants owe him for his inventive arithmetic! Now, his job prospects look healthy; his future is looking potentially good. The steward is praised not for his dishonesty, but for his resourcefulness in coping with an emergency with such speed.
The disciples of Jesus must use all their intelligence in the service of God’s Kingdom, like the dishonest steward. They must not imitate his dishonesty. On the contrary, Christians must always be completely honest and trustworthy. They must live with total integrity, not just in the big decisions in life, but also in their small daily activities. Whenever God speaks to us, a reminder about the poor and needy is never far away.
The first statement of Jesus associates with money is to use it for the benefit of others. Jesus did not condemn money as such; it can be a great aid and help to the poor and the needy. The second statement of Jesus about money is tainted. It can be a carrier of multiple temptations. Even the treasurer of the apostles succumbed to his itchy fingers. The third statement of Jesus associated with money is slavery to a new master. At what stage does it become an alternative to God? Money can be a great gift offering to whoever possesses it, giving the means and the opportunity to do great good. It is however also tainted with temptations and burdened with great responsibilities. How will you use it if you have it? Will it corrupt your life and your soul?
Always remember the Lord still hears the cry of the poor; we neglect them at our own spiritual peril. The poor are always with us. Every time that we see or hear of someone poorer than ourselves whom we could help and don’t, Christ is present; He is in our midst, and in His presence we judge ourselves!
We can become so obsessed with making more money that we are ready to sacrifice all our time and energy, our friends and family, and in the end our Church and our God. Money can become our ‘god’. It can rule our hearts and take the place of the ‘One’ True God. Jesus concludes the parable, saying, “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”. When money is used for the benefit of people, God is pleased and so it becomes a preparation for eternity.
All that glitters isn’t gain. True gain consists in putting people first and recognizing that the ultimate value of people is their destiny to an eternal life with God, where they will “come to the full knowledge of the truth”.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year C, we reflect on …
Sun. … Are we “people persons”, rating people over material gain, or are we among those whom material gain comes first? The bottom line is treating others as Jesus would, with compassion, love and dignity. Do we exercise proper social justice in our dealings with all people?
Mon. … God lends his voice to the plight of the poor, defenceless and ignorant to the ways of the world. Our Lord and Saviour often referred to the plight of the poor, widows and orphans. Jesus said, “I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me”.
Tues. … The prophet Amos tells the people of the Northern kingdom of Israel that they cannot enjoy the protection of God while living off the misery of the poor. The prophet’s message applies to us even more so in modern times because the problem is becoming greater.
Wed. … The second reading reinforces the truth that people come first. At Sunday Mass we pray for the Church, which is made up of people. We pray for world leaders that they may recognize the great responsibility that God has given them, a responsibility that they will have to answer for. Leaders who are seemingly astute in the eyes of the public but who are dishonest and corrupt need all the prayers they can get!
Thurs. … Jesus compares the astuteness of the steward in money dealings with the way his disciples and us go about in the affairs of God. Jesus notes that his followers are not using their intelligence to spread the ‘Good News’ which is much more important than selfish money matters.
Frid. … It is not true of our Christian communities that we are very creative when it comes to making money, but do we use the same intelligence and creativity to evangelise the people around us and to bring justice to politics and economic benefit to society? We tend to leave the latter to others!
Sat. … Jesus concludes the parable, saying, ‘and I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of ‘dishonest wealth’ (money) so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. When money is spent selfishly its potential for good is totally wasted. When money is used for the good and well-being of others it pleases God and so it becomes a preparation for eternity.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, grant to us the astuteness of the ‘steward’ to spread the Good News of the ‘Kingdom’ and to use the intelligence You have gifted us with to evangelise the people around us and to bring truth and justice for all into our society.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.