Sunday, Sept. 22, is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C). Mass readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13.
Today’s readings are at once a warning, an encouragement and a lesson from Our Lord. The first reading from the prophet Amos provides the warning. We hear of the ways the corrupt have abused the poor for their own gain. The wealthy go to great lengths in order to secure and acquire more and more wealth. “Never,” says the Lord, will he forget the “things they have done!”
This warning gives way to an encouragement in St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy.
We read that “God our savior wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” No doubt this includes the poor, whom the Psalmist tells us are lifted up by the Lord, but it also includes “kings” and “all in authority.”
The lesson then starts in the Gospel from St. Luke. Jesus tells the story of a rich man who was unhappy with the manner in which his steward was caring for his property. The owner demands an account of the steward’s work before he fires him. Presuming his neighbors will abuse him for the injustices of his rich master, the steward devises a plan. He goes to all those who owe his master and slashes their debt. In this way they might welcome him when he is released from the rich man’s service.
Jesus then tells us that instead of being angry at the steward, the master “commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” Our Lord goes on to say that the “children of this world are more prudent” than the “children of light.”
It may seem then that Our Lord is telling us to admire the steward’s fraud against his master, but that is not the case. The lesson is twofold. First, Jesus asks which master we serve. “You cannot serve both God and mammon,” he says. We must choose between salvation or earthly gain. Second, if we choose salvation, then, like the shrewd steward who went to such great lengths in order to secure his physical well-being, we, “the children of light,” should be just as shrewd in securing our spiritual well-being. The unjust ones in the first reading work diligently and without compromise for more wealth. We should be willing to work with as much zeal for our salvation.
So, do we put things and money above our faith, our family and friends? How creative are we at expanding time for our spiritual life? Do we choose Christ Jesus above all else, or do we live a divided life?
These are important questions, but lest we be discouraged in our answers, we are comforted by St. Paul’s reminder today about this hard truth: Our Lord desires us to be saved. In that, we praise the Lord Jesus and ask him to help us be zealous for him and his kingdom.
Deacon Omar Gutierrez is
the president and
co-founder of the Evangelium Institute.