25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (22 September 2019)
Amos 8:4-7; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
The readings this week strike at the very core of our value system. Is it God who is at the centre of our lives? Or is it money? We cannot serve both God and money.
The first reading is taken from the prophet Amos, who condemns the folly of those who for the sake of profit, compromise on principles. Inevitably the pursuit of riches is at the expense of the poor who are oppressed by those who are out to maximize their own assets. They cannot wait for the Sabbath to end so they can get back to making as much money as possible. In so doing they have completely lost sight of the purpose of the Sabbath, which is to spend time rejoicing in His company. The decision to prioritize wealth above God inevitably leads to other types of sins.
The Gospel picks up this theme. In the parable of the rich man and his steward, God is conspicuously absent from each of their lives. The rich man is annoyed that his steward has criticized his wastefulness; while the steward is more concerned with how he can craft a pension plan for himself using his master’s assets. The master is impressed by the steward’s astuteness. But as Jesus observes, the people of this world are more astute at such things than are the children of God’s Kingdom. Jesus then observes that the greed for money often leads to an abandonment of trustworthy behavior. This is a direct consequence of separating oneself from God. Hence the vital reminder: No one can be the slave both of God and of money.
So what should God’s children be focused on? The second reading fills this gap. St Paul teaches that the children of God’s Kingdom are expected to be preoccupied with prayers – petitions for themselves, thanksgiving, and intercessory prayers for others. Such intercessory prayers should also be made for those in authority so that God may touch their hearts with the desire to let God’s people live out their lives in peace and quiet. God’s children should be focused also on spreading the Good News of the salvation won for us through the work of His Son.
The readings this week remain intensely topical and relevant even though they were written more than 2000 years ago. It is evident from the readings that there is a really stark difference between those whose preoccupation is the accumulation of wealth, power and ambition; and those who are dedicated to the pursuit of Godliness. But in our daily lives we tend to gloss over these drastically different bearing points. We tend to compromise by practicing a form of religion and faith while devoting ourselves headlong to the pursuit of earthly treasures. In doing so we ought to recall that in truth we should be exerting our best efforts to deepening our relationship with God and to spreading His Kingdom. And we should re-examine our attitude towards our Sundays. Do we spend as much of this holy day resting in the Lord or do we busy ourselves with other things? We should also sincerely examine our attitude towards those who work for us. Do we shine the face of Jesus to them or do we see them as means to a better end for ourselves? The lure of materialism is strong indeed and we need to be close to God to ensure that our value systems remain centered on Him.
Some points for reflection as you read the passages:
- Can you think of instances where you could have been more conscious of the needs of those less fortunate than yourself? Have you ever acted on this?
- Why do you think it is important for God’s people to pray especially for those in authority? Have you ever seen anyone benefit from intercessory prayer?
- Are you enslaved to material things in any way? How does this undermine your relationship with God? Is there anything specific you could do to conquer this?