25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 18th 2016.
Am 8:4-7; 1Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Why relationships always matter
Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth
A female nurse told me about her terminally sick mother whom she was taken care of at her own home despite her own poor health. But her mother swore, insulted, and cursed her frequently. It was emotionally painful and draining for her and none of her other siblings wanted to take their mother into their home for the same reason. The woman took my advice to pray for her mother, continue to care for her, endure her insults, and maintain her relationship with her. When her mother eventually passed away, the woman said to me, “I am happy that I kept her at home with me. My main source of peace as I grieve now is that I can honestly say that I did all that I could do for her in life till the very end.”
Her story reminds us that nothing satisfies us in this life more than maintaining good relationship with God and with others. We are made by a God of relationships (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) for the sake of entering gradually into perfect, fulfilling, and everlasting relationship with God and with others. Created in the image of the Triune God, we find satisfaction not in acquiring and enjoying more and more of the goods of this life but only when we use all that we have to know and love God more and serve Him better in others for His own sake.
Jesus tells a parable of a servant dismissed for “squandering his master’s property.” The master eventually commends the same wasteful servant when he acts dishonestly by reducing the amount of goods owed to the master. Why would you commend a wasteful servant who also acts dishonestly and reduces the amount of goods owed to you by falsifying the promissory note? Maybe for the first time the wasteful and dishonest steward learned that it is not more money or property that satisfies but enduring relationship with others, “I know what I shall do so that when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.” Instead of keeping the ill-gotten profit he had accumulated, he wanted to secure a home where he would be accepted and welcomed by his master’s debtors. He acted promptly in this regard with the only thing that he had with him – the promissory note, “Sit down quickly and write one for fifty.”
Jesus says, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” The children of this world are convinced about the source of worldly satisfaction and they use the right means to achieve it, even if it means entering into alliances of mutual manipulation. But we, the children of light, God’s own children, do we know what satisfies us most in life? When we know that only our relationship with God and with others is what satisfies us most, what are we ready to do, what are we ready to sacrifice, or to endure so as to grow in this one truly enduring and satisfying thing?
Jesus ends by calling us to use all that we have to nurture our relationships with others as best as we can, “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth.” “Dishonest wealth” refers to all that we have, all the things we have received from God as stewards and not as absolute owners, things that we have to let go of one day whether we like to or not. We should not hesitate to lose these passing things for the sake of nurturing enduring relationships with God and others, “So that when it (wealth) fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
St. Paul says God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God desires that we enter into a deep saving relationship with Him and He did something to make it happen – He gave us His only begotten Son “so that those who believe in Him may not perish but may have everlasting life.” Jesus Christ too desires that we too enter into that perfect, fulfilling and enduring relationship with the Father. He desires it and He did something – He offered Himself, “He gave Himself as a ransom for all.” We were made for this satisfying relationship and we desire it. But what are we ready to do to grow in this relationship?
We are in a loving relationship with God today not because we are suddenly good enough, feel good enough, have everything that we want in life, have no sins, sufferings, pains, or failures in life, etc. We are in a growing, fulfilling and enduring relationship with God not because of anything we have or do but because in Jesus Christ, “the one mediator between God and men,” we have been reconciled with God. We cannot judge our relationship with God by our physical, emotional, or spiritual conditions in life. We can only grow in it by faith that is shown in loving actions towards God and others.
We begin to grow in this relationship with God and others when our worship of God becomes authentic and life transforming. The worship of the Israelites in Samaria during the time of the Prophet Amos did not affect their way of life and how they related with the less privileged. They could hardly even wait for the Sabbath to be over for them to enrich themselves by exploiting the poor, “When will the new moon be over 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!” It was empty worship that affected neither their relationship with God nor their neighbors.
So how is our Eucharist today going to affect how we live in the future? How is our life-giving contact with our dependable mediator with the Father, Jesus Christ, going to affect our relationship with God and with others? Is it going to lead us to deepen our conversion from sin and selfishness? Is it going to intensify our life of prayer and make our prayer more and more selfless until we pray with sincere concern for all people like St. Paul asks of Timothy, “First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers and thanksgiving be offered for everyone?” Is it going to lead us to reconcile with others in life and to serve them better and more generously? Or is our Eucharist going to leave us wavering and lukewarm in our relationship with God, fixated on accumulating and enjoying the goods of the earth, and indifferent about the needs of others and the state of our relationship with them?
In and outside the Eucharist, our loving God desires and acts always to bring us into this relationship with Him and with others no matter the pains or hurts of life.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what then are we His children doing today to grow in this perfecting, fulfilling and everlasting relationship for which we were created and in which we alone find satisfaction?
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!