Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – C

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No servant can serve two masters.  He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

OPENING PRAYER

Prayer for Charity in Truth

Father, your truth is made known in your Word.

Guide us to seek the truth of the human person.

Teach us the way to love because you are Love.

Jesus, you embody Love and Truth.

Help us to recognize your face in the poor.

Enable us to live out our vocation to bring love and justice to your people.

Holy Spirit, you inspire us to transform our world.

Empower us to seek the common good for all persons.

Give us a spirit of solidarity and make us one human family.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer is based on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth)

COLLECT

O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law

upon love of you and of our neighbor,

grant that, by keeping your precepts,

we may merit to attain eternal life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity

of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

READING I0615amos-prophet0010

Am 8:4-7

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy

and destroy the poor of the land!

When will the new moon be over,” you ask,

that we may sell our grain,

and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?

We will diminish the ephah,

add to the shekel,

and fix our scales for cheating!

We will buy the lowly for silver,

and the poor for a pair of sandals;

even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”

The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:

Never will I forget a thing they have done!

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.1

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.

CCC 2409 Even if it does not contradict the provisions of civil law, any form of unjustly taking and keeping the property of others is against the seventh commandment: thus, deliberate retention of goods lent or of objects lost; business fraud; paying unjust wages; forcing up prices by taking advantage of the ignorance or hardship of another.2

The following are also morally illicit: speculation in which one contrives to manipulate the price of goods artificially in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; corruption in which one influences the judgment of those who must make decisions according to law; appropriation and use for private purposes of the common goods of an enterprise; work poorly done; tax evasion; forgery of checks and invoices; excessive expenses and waste. Willfully damaging private or public property is contrary to the moral law and requires reparation.

CCC 2449 Beginning with the Old Testament, all kinds of juridical measures (the jubilee year of forgiveness of debts, prohibition of loans at interest and the keeping of collateral, the obligation to tithe, the daily payment of the day-laborer, the right to glean vines and fields) answer the exhortation of Deuteronomy: “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor in the land.’”3 Jesus makes these words his own: “The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”4 In so doing he does not soften the vehemence of former oracles against “buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. ..,” but invites us to recognize his own presence in the poor who are his brethren:5

When her mother reproached her for caring for the poor and the sick at home, St. Rose of Lima said to her: “When we serve the poor and the sick, we serve Jesus. We must not fail to help our neighbors, because in them we serve Jesus.”6

1 Cf. Am 8:4-10.

2 Cf. Deut 25:13-16; 24:14-15; Jas 5:4; Am 8:4-6.

3 Deut 15:11.

4 Jn 12:8.

5 Am 8:6; cf. Mt 25:40.

6 P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).

APPLICATION

The words of Amos could be addressed to many, far too many, of the business people and others in any town or city of the so-called Christian world today. What a shock for our pride in our humanity, for our boast of the great improvements in our culture and civilization, to learn that on the whole we are no better than the people who lived in Israel two thousand seven hundred years ago, as far as the virtue of justice is concerned. The wealthy are growing more wealthy today on the backs of the poor, just as the godless Israelites did in the days of Amos. Landlords are rack-renting their tenants and driving them into slum-lands that are nothing but slave-dwellings. Merchants and businessmen are cheating their customers, if not always by using false weights and measures, by other more subtle means.

Injustices between nations have caused wars. Injustice practiced between citizens of the same country, in varied ways, has caused and will continue to cause fratricidal strife. The oppression of the poor is one of the sins crying to heaven for vengeance. God has heard that cry in the past. He will hear it again, if not during the life-time of the offenders then when they face his judgment–which is far worse for them.

What has been said above may not, please God, apply to very many, if any, of our Catholic people. As a general rule they are not among the upper, wealthy classes, nor are they very numerous in the ranks of the big business men. Nevertheless, we Catholics can and do offend against justice in many ways, even if on a smaller scale. The smaller store-keeper, if guilty of injustice in his dealings, cannot injure so many people as bigger concerns can and do, but in injuring anyone he is sinning against justice and against God.

Business dealings apart, there are many other ways in which injustice is committed, in our dealings with the state, with insurance companies, with local authorities. In the question of employment there are two ways of offending. The employer can be unjust if he does not pay a living wage. There are public and state remedies which can, and are generally invoked today in most countries, to remedy and put an end to this evil. There is the other side to this injustice, which is generally forgotten by the employee and against which the employer often has no redress. This is dishonesty on the part of the employee who fails to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. The employee, whether in dungarees or white-collar, whether he is employed by the state or by a private citizen, who draws a wage which he does not earn, is guilty of injustice and will some day have to render an account of his ill-gotten gains.

It would be well for all of us to listen to the words of the prophet Amos today, and to examine our consciences carefully on this virtue of justice. Do we deserve any of the censures which he passed on the Israelites? Are we just, fair and honest in our dealings with our neighbor? If not, we still have time to put our affairs in order before God calls us to render an account of our stewardship. We still have time to avoid an exile worse, far worse, than that which befell the unjust Israelites. We can avoid exclusion from eternal happiness.

RESPONSORIAL PSALMjesus-raises-the-widow-of-nains-son-icon

Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,

praise the name of the LORD.

Blessed be the name of the LORD

both now and forever.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

High above all nations is the LORD;

above the heavens is his glory.

Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high

and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

He raises up the lowly from the dust;

from the dunghill he lifts up the poor

to seat them with princes,

with the princes of his own people.

Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.

READING IIHolyEucharist-Icon-1

1 Tm 2:1-8

Beloved:

First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,

petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,

for kings and for all in authority,

that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life

in all devotion and dignity.

This is good and pleasing to God our savior,

who wills everyone to be saved

and to come to knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God.

There is also one mediator between God and men,

the man Christ Jesus,

who gave himself as ransom for all.

This was the testimony at the proper time.

For this I was appointed preacher and apostle

I am speaking the truth, I am not lying —,

teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,

lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 1 God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.

CCC 74 God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”:1 that is, of Christ Jesus.2 Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:

God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.3

CCC 618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.4 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.5 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,6 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”7 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.8 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.9

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.10

CCC 851 Missionary motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, “for the love of Christ urges us on.”11 Indeed, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”;12 that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.

CCC 956 The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. .. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus. .. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”13

Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life.14

I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth.15

CCC 1256 The ordinary ministers of Baptism are the bishop and priest and, in the Latin Church, also the deacon.16 In case of necessity, anyone, even a nonbaptized person, with the required intention, can baptize17, by using the Trinitarian baptismal formula. The intention required is to will to do what the church does when she baptizes. The Church finds the reason for this possibility in the universal saving will of God and the necessity of Baptism for salvation.18

CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,”19 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

CCC 1349 The Liturgy of the Word includes “the writings of the prophets,” that is, the Old Testament, and “the memoirs of the apostles” (their letters and the Gospels). After the homily, which is an exhortation to accept this Word as what it truly is, the Word of God,20 and to put it into practice, come the intercessions for all men, according to the Apostle’s words: “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings, and all who are in high positions.”21

CCC 1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.22 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end”23 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.”24 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.25

CCC 1900 The duty of obedience requires all to give due honor to authority and to treat those who are charged to exercise it with respect, and, insofar as it is deserved, with gratitude and good-will.

Pope St. Clement of Rome provides the Church’s most ancient prayer for political authorities:26 “Grant to them, Lord, health, peace, concord, and stability, so that they may exercise without offense the sovereignty that you have given them. Master, heavenly King of the ages, you give glory, honor, and power over the things of earth to the sons of men. Direct, Lord, their counsel, following what is pleasing and acceptable in your sight, so that by exercising with devotion and in peace and gentleness the power that you have given to them, they may find favor with you.”27

CCC 2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country:

Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.28

[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. .. They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. .. So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.29

The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”30

CCC 2574 Once the promise begins to be fulfilled (Passover, the Exodus, the gift of the Law, and the ratification of the covenant), the prayer of Moses becomes the most striking example of intercessory prayer, which will be fulfilled in “the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”31

CCC 2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.32 He is “able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”33 The Holy Spirit “himself intercedes for us. .. and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”34

CCC 2822 Our Father “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”35 He “is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish.”36 His commandment is “that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”37 This commandment summarizes all the others and expresses his entire will.

1 1 Tim 2:4.

2 cf. Jn 14:6.

3 DV 7; cf. 2 Cor 1:20; 3:16-4:6.

4 1 Tim 2:5.

5 GS 22 # 5; cf. # 2.

6 Mt 16:24.

7 I Pt 2:21.

8 Cf Mk 10:39; Jn 21:18-19; Col 1:24.

9 Cf. Lk 2:35.

10 St. Rose of Lima: cf. P. Hansen, Vita mirabilis (Louvain, 1668).

11 2 Cor 5:14; cf. AA 6; RMiss 11.

12 1 Tim 2:4.

13 LG 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5.

14 St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.

15 St. Therese of Lisieux, The Final Conversations, tr. John Clarke (Washington: ICS, 1977), 102.

16 Cf. CIC, can. 861 # 1; CCEO, can. 677 # 1.

17 CIC, can. 861.2.

18 Cf. 1 Tim 2:4.

19 Mk 10 14; cf. 1 Tim 2:4.

20 Cf. 1 Thess 2:13.

21 1 Tim 2:1-2.

22 Cf. Rom 8:28-30; Mt 7:21.

23 Mt 10:22; cf. Council of Trent DS 1541.

24 1 Tim 2:4.

25 St. Teresa of Avila, Excl. 15:3.

26 Cf. as early as 1 Tim 2:1-2.

27 St. Clement of Rome, Ad Cor. 61: SCh 167,198-200.

28 Rom 13:7.

29 Ad Diognetum 5, 5 and 10; 6, 10: PG 2, 1173 and 1176.

30 1 Tim 2:2.

31 1 Tim 2:5.

32 Cf. Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Tim 2:5-8.

33 Heb 7:25.

34 Rom 8:26-27.

35 1 Tim 2:3-4.

36 2 Pet 3:9; cf. Mt 18:14.

37 Jn 13:34; cf. 1 Jn 3; 4; Lk 10:25-37.

APPLICATION

What St. Paul is telling Timothy, the bishop of Ephesus, to teach his congregation is the necessity and the obligation of prayer. This was one of the basic duties of a Christian as our Lord himself taught his disciples both by example and by precept. The gospels tell us that he prayed frequently to his Father and he told the disciples that they should alway pray (Lk. 18 : 1). That the disciples learned this lesson and put it into practice is evident from the Acts. After the Ascension they returned from the Mount of Olives to the upper room where they were staying and “joined in continuous prayer, (Acts 1: 14); before they elected a successor to Judas “they prayed” (1: 24). When, after Pentecost day, Jewish converts were joining in thousands “they remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles . . . to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (2: 42). When Peter and John, arrested by the Sanhedrin for preaching the “resurrection of Jesus,” were set free, the whole community “lifted up their voice to God all together” and prayed their prayer of thanksgiving (4: 24).

From the very beginning of the Christian Church, therefore, prayer was a basic, an essential, part of Christian living. This was the teaching of Christ himself. St. Paul taught this doctrine to all his converts and this Timothy knew already. What St. Paul is urging on Timothy in today’s epistle is the need and the obligation to pray for the conversion of “those in authority” the civil powers, local and central.

Their conversion would enable Christians to lead undisturbed, tranquil lives in piety and dignity. More important still, it would help to fulfill the wish of God which is “that all men be saved and come to know the truth.” This is the primary petition in the “Our Father,” the form of prayer Christ gave his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray: “may your name be held holy, may your kingdom come (the kingdom of Christ on earth), may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This, then, is the duty of which St. Paul is reminding Timothy and through him, all of us today : the duty of praying always and everywhere for the conversion of all men to the knowledge and the service of God, their Father.

This duty, this obligation, was never more pressing on the true followers of Christ and lovers of God, than it is today. We are living in a world which is torn by strife and divisions. We have localized but bitter wars doing on in several parts of our little world, we are living under the shadow of a possible world conflagration which, with the present means of destruction, invented by men, could exterminate the greater part of the human race in a few weeks, if not in a few hours.

The cause of all this is simply that men refuse to admit the brotherhood of man, because they will not admit the fatherhood of God and his plans for their true happiness. If only men would come to see that they are put here on earth, by a loving Father, who gave them great gifts of mind and body, through the proper use of which they can earn an unending life after a few short years here, they would then see all other men as their brothers who are on the same journey as themselves. Instead of impeding their brothers by the abuse of the gifts God gave them, they would share these gifts with them and make the journey easier and safer for all.

This, of course, is easier said than done. That does not excuse us Christians from using the means which Christ himself gave us and commanded us to use, to obtain this grace—the acceptance of God’s kingdom, the submission to God’s dominion over his creation by all men in all places and times. Let us heed the words of St. Paul today, and begin to pray fervently for the conversion of all mankind. God wants all the races and nations of the world to earn heaven. All true lovers of God must wish and want the same. Atheists, agnostics, pagans, Jews, Moslems, Christians of all denominations, are our brothers. They are all sons of God, heirs to heaven, because of the Incarnation, and we must want them all to be with us in heaven for they are our brothers and this is God’s wish and intention for all of us.

Pray fervently then, and pray frequently, that all men will come to know the truth, namely, that there is but one God, who is Father of all and loves all. That he has arranged an eternity of happiness for all his children, we know. He has done so by sending his divine Son to share in our humanity so that we could thus share in his divinity. May God give the light of faith to all his children so that they may come to see how infinite his love for them is; once they see this they cannot but love him in return.

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Lk 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples,

A rich man had a steward

who was reported to him for squandering his property.

He summoned him and said,

What is this I hear about you?

Prepare a full account of your stewardship,

because you can no longer be my steward.’

The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,

now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?

I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.

I know what I shall do so that,

when I am removed from the stewardship,

they may welcome me into their homes.’

He called in his master’s debtors one by one.

To the first he said,

How much do you owe my master?’

He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’

He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.

Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’

Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’

He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’

The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;

write one for eighty.’

And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.

For the children of this world

are more prudent in dealing with their own generation

than are the children of light.

I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,

so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

The person who is trustworthy in very small matters

is also trustworthy in great ones;

and the person who is dishonest in very small matters

is also dishonest in great ones.

If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,

who will trust you with true wealth?

If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,

who will give you what is yours?

No servant can serve two masters.

He will either hate one and love the other,

or be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

http://usccb.org/bible/readings/091816.cfm

CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)

CCC 523 St. John the Baptist is the Lord’s immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way.1 “Prophet of the Most High”, John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last.2 He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother’s womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being “the friend of the bridegroom”, whom he points out as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.3 Going before Jesus “in the spirit and power of Elijah”, John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom.4

CCC 952 “They had everything in common.”5 “Everything the true Christian has is to be regarded as a good possessed in common with everyone else. All Christians should be ready and eager to come to the help of the needy. .. and of their neighbors in want.”6 A Christian is a steward of the Lord’s goods.7

CCC 2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble.8 He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.9

Between the baptized, “a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death.”10

CCC 2424 A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order.11

A system that “subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production” is contrary to human dignity.12 Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. “You cannot serve God and mammon.”13

1 Cf. Acts 13:24; Mt 3:3.

2 Lk 1:76; cf. 7:26; Mt 11:13.

3 Jn 1 29; cf. Acts 1:22; Lk 1:41; 16:16; Jn 3:29.

4 Lk 1:17; cf. Mk 6:17-29.

5 Acts 4:32.

6 Roman Catechism 1, 10, 27.

7 Cf. Lk 16:1, 3.

8 Cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-9; Mk 10 9; Lk 16:18; 1 Cor 7:10-ll.

9 Cf. Mt 19:7-9.

10 CIC, can. 1141.

11 Cf. GS 63 # 3; LE 7; 20; CA 35.

12 GS 65 # 2.

13 Mt 6:24; Lk 16:13.

APPLICATION

These words of Christ warning those who would follow him on the road to heaven not to become the slaves of earthly things are applicable to all of us.

Most of us may feel that this warning is for millionaires and business magnates. Our Lord didn’t say so. There was not a single millionaire in his audience. He meant it for all of us, for what he warned against was not the just acquisition of this world’s goods but their unjust acquisition, and the dishonest use of them when they were justly acquired. It was God who created all that exists in this world. He intended these goods for the use of man. We are only managers therefore, of these worldly goods. It is on our way of managing these goods, not on the quantity we had to manage, that our judgment will be based. Millionaires can get to heaven while all paupers have no guarantee that they will make it. Our Lord deduces two lessons for us from the parable of the unjust manager or steward. Firstly, the enterprise which he showed in providing for his earthly happiness when he would lose his employment, was greater and keener than that shown by most of us in providing for our eternal happiness.

If we take an honest look at last week as a sample of our lives, how many of its 168 hours did I spend on earning merit for any future life? Granted the 96 hours spent in work and sleep, I still had 72 hours which I could call my very own. How many of them did I devote to spiritual things? In my favor I can count my 40 hours of work if they were devoted to honest labor and also my 56 hours of sleep and rest. Honest recreation can also count in my favor–but all this supposes that I had at least a virtual intention of dedicating my week to the honor and glory of God and for my eternal salvation.

Did I give one hour a day to God and the things of God, helping the needy, learning more about my religion, giving a hand in parochial affairs, advising those in difficulties, spiritual or temporal, praying for my own and my neighbor’s needs–yet even if I did, it is less than one tenth of the free time I had at my own disposal.

If I did not, if I barely managed to get in the Sunday Mass and a few hasty prayers, could anyone suggest that I was showing great interest and was very enterprising as far as my future life was concerned? God is very generous with me. He gives me lots of time for providing for my health and temporal needs each week, and a lot of free time besides. I should not express surprise if he is disappointed at how little of that wonderful gift of time I am willing to give back to him. The unjust steward was far more enterprising as regards earthly provision for himself.

The second lesson our Lord wishes to teach us is that we should use what we can spare of our earthly possessions in helping those who are in need of our help. By doing that, we will be making friends who will help us at the judgment seat to get a lasting reception in heaven. Remember that description of the judgment which our Lord gave when he said, “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me”? What we do for the needy we do for him. Those whom we help, as far as we can, will be witnesses testifying for us when our final examination, on which our eternity will depend, comes upon us.

Two resolutions worthy of your serious consideration today in relation to earthly goods are: Never let them take up all your time. You have a far more serious purpose in life. Give it a little more thought and enterprise than you have been doing. Secondly, be grateful to God for what he has given you in this life. You might like to have a lot more, but God knows best. Work honestly and be generous with what you have. You are serving God, not money. God will be waiting for you where there is no currency, and where the one bank account that matters will be the good use that you made of your time and your share of this world’s goods while you were alive.

Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission of Franciscan Press.

BENEDICTUS

Trusting in Truth

It was foretold that the struggle between humanity and the serpent, that is, between man and the forces of evil and death, would continue throughout history. It was also foretold, however, that the “offspring” of a woman would one day triumph and would crush the head of the serpent to death; it was foretold that the offspring the woman – and in this offspring the woman and the mother herself – would be victorious and that thus, through man, God would triumph. The human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbors the suspicion that, in the end, God takes something away from his life, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we have cast hem aside; in brief, that only in this way can we fully achieve our freedom. The human being lives in the suspicion that God’s love creates a dependence and that he must rid himself wants to obtain from the tree of knowledge the power to shape the world, to make himself a god, raising himself to God’s level, and to overcome death and darkness with his own efforts. He does not want to rely on love that to him seems untrustworthy; he relies solely on his own knowledge since it confers power upon him. Rather than on love, he sets his sights on power, with which he desires to take his own life autonomously in hand. And in doing so, he trusts in deceit rather than in truth and thereby sinks with his life into emptiness, into death.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

CLOSING PRAYER

Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who does not walk

in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the way of sinners,

nor sit in company with scoffers.a=

Rather, the law of the LORD is his joy;

and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree

planted near streams of water,

that yields its fruit in season;

Its leaves never wither;

whatever he does prospers.

But not so are the wicked, not so!

They are like chaff driven by the wind.

Therefore the wicked will not arise at the judgment,

nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.

Because the LORD knows the way of the just,

but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

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About Benedicamus Domino

Let Us Bless The Lord - A Benedictine oblate's weekly study of the Catholic Church's Sunday Sacred Liturgy. I hope that families and friends will benefit from this as a prayerful way to prepare and actively participate in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
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