25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 22nd 2013
Amos 8:4-7; 1Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
When condemnation turns to commendation
Today’s Gospel parable poses a tough question, “Why would Jesus use a story of a dubious servant to teach us a lesson on stewardship?” The rich man initially condemned the wasteful servant for squandering his property, saying to him, “You can no longer be my steward.” We can assume that the servant gravely betrayed the trust of his master and abused the privilege of service. But after the servant does this shady deal with the master’s debtors, making it possible for them to reduce the amount that they owed the master, the master turns around to commend the dubious servant for acting prudently. The master’s earlier condemnation gives way to commendation even though his property was further squandered by this servant. It is difficult to understand this commendation of such a servant.
What brought about this change from condemnation to commendation? I believe that it is because of the change in attitude of the servant. Before he lost his position as servant, he was a man who did not think much of securing his future. He lived for the present moment without worrying about the future. When the position of steward was taken from him, and he realized that he could not beg or dig, he started to think of what do to so that when he ceased being a steward, people will “welcome him into their homes.” In the face of his misfortune, he used all that he had to make sure that he will have a home at the end. In the occasion of his dismissal from service, he used the knowledge that he had of the master’s debtors and the promissory note that he had in his possession to secure a future home for himself. This striving for a future home by making use of all that he had is what won him the commendation of his previous master who had earlier condemned him.
This parable shows that what offends God most is not our sins, no matter how grievous or frequent that they may be. God is always ready to forgive us if we ask for forgiveness. What offends God most is also not His graces and gifts that we waste. He is always ready to bestow more graces and gifts on us if we are humble and trusting enough to ask for them. God is greatly offended when we choose to live for here and now and forget to use all that we have to strive for our heavenly home with Him.
In the First Reading, Amos talks about the New Moon feast for the Israelites. The new moon is a monthly day of rest, a day to offer sacrifices and to refrain from business transactions. However, instead of being a day of rest and sacrifice, a day to be focused on God and their relationship with Him, it became for the Israelites a day of scheming and longing for profit to be made by cheating and taking advantage of the poor. The day that was meant for repentance and focusing their attention on God became for them a day that they bragged about “buying the lowly for silver and the poor for a set of sandals.” They could hardly wait for the new moon to be over so that they could return to their worldly adventures and their marginalization and exploitation of the poor. They chose to live for here and now, making profit and forgetting about God and their relationship with Him. The Lord is offended by their attitude and swears that their condemnation remains, “Never will I forget a thing that they have done!”
St. Paul’s letter to Timothy affirms that God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This is God’s desire for each and every one of us in this world. Jesus Christ, the one mediator between God and man, filled with this same desire, “gave Himself as ransom for all,” to save us from our sins and death and bring us into the Father’s glorious kingdom. We are now God’s children who can lay claim to our heavenly home because God desires it for us and Jesus Christ has won for us the right to this home by shedding His blood on the Cross. What a costly price Jesus paid to make heaven our home?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, heaven is indeed our true home. But are we striving for it with all that we have? Are we striving to enter heaven with all that we have or are striving only for the riches, pleasures, and comforts of this world? Have we lost hope that we can be holier than we are now? Have we convinced ourselves that our sins do not matter to God anymore and there is no need for repentance? Have we bought into the modern day permissive slogan, “I was born this way. There is nothing that I can do?” Even here at Mass, are we focused on the mystery being celebrated and open to receive the graces of this Eucharistic sacrifice or are we fixated in the creaturely pleasures, comforts and goods? As long as we have given up responding to God’s love in striving for closer union with Him with all that we have, we choose to offend Him gravely.
It is not our sins or sinfulness that offends God the most. Neither is he offended most by our reception of His graces and failures to respond. But refusing to persevere in the journey to Him, with all that He has given to us, is most offensive to Him. We must resolve to use everything in this important venture. Let us use our money, our energy, our time, our talents, our minds, our hearts, our wills, and our bodies in this most important journey back to God. Let us make use of all graces of the sacraments, especially the Sacraments of confession and Eucharist to strive for ever more complete union with God. Let us turn to this same God in prayer with the bible, rosary, etc. We must not ignore devotion to the Mother of God and the saints for examples and companionship in this journey home. We must not be deaf to the teaching of the magisterium of the Catholic Church. God has given us all these things to use in striving for our heavenly home.
In this Eucharistic sacrifice, we encounter Jesus Christ, who comes with mercy and grace, mercy to cleanse us of our sins and grace to make our journey home possible. No matter our sinfulness or our waste of His graces, if we use all of His mercy and graces and all that we have to strive for heaven and resist the temptation to live for this present world, we give Him the praise that is due to Him and prepare ourselves to have our own condemnation turned into commendation.
Glory to Jesus!!!! Honor to Mary!!!!!