25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C – Homily

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Amos 8:4-7
Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8 (see 1a, 7b)
1 Timothy 2:1-8
Luke 16:1-3
September 22, 2019

Our readings start today with the prophet Amos speaking to those “who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!

 The people to whom he is speaking would say they keep the Sabbath holy.  However, they do not let themselves be transformed by what the Sabbath offers.  They can’t wait for the Sabbath to be over so they can get back to what they really want to do, making more money.

They will do anything to make more money.  They are not honest in their business dealings, cheating on the scales and adding to the shekel.  They are even willing to “buy the lowly” and “the poor.” 

In their dishonest business dealings, they are, in a sense, breaking the commandment against stealing and failing to love their neighbor (not treating them with dignity).

This all goes back to them not keeping the Sabbath holy.  If they allowed themselves to be transformed by what happens on the Sabbath, they would not conduct their business dealings with such dishonesty, motivated by greed.

If we allow ourselves to be transformed by our Sabbath celebration, instead of taking advantage of the poor, we will seek to be like the Lord “who lifts up the poor.”

The people that Amos spoke about were clearly being, at the very least, dishonest in their dealings.  Turning to the parable Jesus tells today, we hear about the rich man’s steward. 

The steward is reported to the rich man for “squandering his property.”  This doesn’t necessarily mean the steward is stealing.  The job of a steward was to manage the master’s resources well.  To squander is to use wastefully.  Thus, the steward is not doing what he was hired to do.  Thus, for his failure, he is fired.  Before firing him, the rich man tells him to “prepare a full account” of his stewardship.  The rich man needs to know what his assets are.

The steward knows he is in trouble, not just in losing his job, but that he has no means to provide for his future.  He knows he is “not strong enough to dig” and he is “ashamed to beg.

What does he do? 

He starts reducing the debt due from his master’s borrowers.  This might seem like stealing.  However, the scholars say that, in those days, the way the steward made a living was that when they lend out their master’s money, they would properly increase the debt to cover their commission. 

Thus, in reducing what they owe, this steward is foregoing his commission.  Under other circumstances, this would be generous.  Here, the steward does it hoping that they in turn will be kind to him in the future.  His motives are not great but at least he realizes that if he wants others to treat him with generosity, he needs to do the same.

He is beginning to change.  Change is possible.  There is a saying that “every saint has a past and every sinner a future.  What do you need to change in your life to allow yourself to be converted from a sinner to a saint?

Another way of thinking of it is to imagine it is your time of judgment.  You are told to “prepare a full account of your stewardship.”  What have you done with the gifts God has given you?

Have you made yourself a slave to “mammon” (material wealth) or do you use what you have been given to serve God, to make his kingdom known in this world?

Do we need money?  Yes.  Money is the means by which we receive payment for the work we have done and that we buy what we need for food, clothing, and shelter.  Money is not the problem.  It is when we let the money control what we do that we become a slave to it.

Jesus tells us, “no servant can serve two masters… You cannot serve both God and mammon.

If you find that you have let money become what dictates what you do, then it is time to change.  How does one do that?  We have debts.  We have bills we are committed to.  God doesn’t want use to default on our financial promises.

If you have been too focused on money and can change to put the focus on God all at once, then do it.  If not, at least identify small steps you can begin to take.

This isn’t just a matter of money.  What else can you do to put God first?

How about service to others?  Do you volunteer at all?  If you are busy, start with just an hour or two.  You can increase how much time you volunteer over time.

How about prayer?

If you haven’t prayed on your own in a while, one might make a long-term goal of spending an hour in prayer each day but that is probably too big a change for anyone to make all at once.  You might not have the hour to give.  Others might find the hour but what do you do with the hour?

Start with 3-5 minutes, trying different ways of praying and build up.  The same can be true for adoration.  You know we have weekly adoration at St. Mary’s from 5 to 7 pm every Thursday.  It is offered for two hours but we don’t expect anyone to stay for the whole two hours.  Most people I have seen come and pray quietly for anywhere from five minutes to thirty minutes, with some staying longer.  Start small and increase.  The point is to open yourself to Jesus and put him first in your life.

So, what do you need to do to put God first to grow closer to God?

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