Sundays of Ordinary Time
For the next five weeks the Sundays of Ordinary Time will have a theme about the qualities demanded of Christians and the obstacles they must confront. While the ancient societies all had prophets, the Hebrew prophets had an efficacious relationship with God. Today’s prophet, Amos, served during a time of relative peace and prosperity. It was a time of great social and religious upheaval. The wealthy pagans had little concern for the poor, but Jewish law and practice demanded concern, a concern for the less fortunate. Just go to any hospital today and see who is supporting it with new wings and the like. I cannot help but think about the indirect intention of which brings about death of so many of our country’s poor by the stalemate and poorly planned healthcare situation in Congress. It seems even worse that there are Catholic legislators involved in this. Nobody seems to know even what is going on with the changes that are about to come into effect. Abortion and embryonic research have quietly reached genocidal proportions. Wars in places like Somalia are slowly starving their people to death. These are the kinds of issues that Amos addresses, but obviously on a much smaller scale. I suppose there is nothing new under the sun, but now we do it on an astounding large scale. Even the use of chemical weapons in Syria pales when we look at the legalized killings around the world.
Chapter 16 of the Gospel of Luke is devoted mostly to teachings about possessions. Absentee landlords were common at the time of Christ. Just like today there are dishonest stewards. It may be a bit puzzling to see Jesus praising a dishonest steward. But his praise is not for dishonesty, but for his practical concern for his future. I just wonder how corrupt are the ones with whom he has “forgiven” their debt. Will they really help him once they got their “good” deal. But what is Jesus really angling at? Christians should be as industrious in promoting the Kingdom of God as materialists are in providing for their material well-being. Ultimately, when we die, we cannot take it with us. Even if our names are inscribed as big donors to institutions, it is only a matter of time when they will be renamed by another big donor.
Money is not neutral to Jesus because it does hold a power over us. Its wise use is a great help not only to our families, but to others. It is a limited commodity that can make our lives more comfortable, but it cannot guarantee longevity, health or lifestyles. No doubt God will hold us accountable for what we do with it. He will ask us how generous we have been to our family, our neighbors in need, our Church and to charitable organizations helping the poor around the world. Along with our charity, we must also pray, as St. Paul urges us, for those who control the distribution of this wealth so that they make good decisions on how to spend it and not take it for personal use or to promote agendas. World leaders must defend the dignity of not just their own people, but for all people. Dignity is obtained by winning hearts for Christ and not by exercising their might or lack of it.