Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
September 17/18, 2016
Amos 8: 4-7; 1Tim 2: 1-8; Lk 16: 1-13
“Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth so that when it fails you, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Lk 16: 9
What does Jesus want to tell us by saying this? Is he encouraging us to accumulate wealth in a dishonest way and making friends with it as a way to get to heaven? Of course not. But what does he mean?
Jesus is reminding us of something that has proven itself over and over again in human history: Material wealth tends to corrupt whoever holds onto it for themselves, and will eventually disappoint and fail its owner, because such wealth is to be shared with others.
Jesus is telling us to use rightly what we have been given in life, for indeed all has been given to us and thus nothing is ours alone. God gives in abundance so we can give in abundance. God gives us all that we have and all that we are so we can give all we have and all we are back to Him and to each other.
If all is gift, then in whom should we place our trust? In the one who gives the gift, not in the gift itself. We must not trust what we possess, but trust in God who has gives it to us. We must have our faith squarely centered on God, not any material or spiritual gift we may have been given.
Why do we cling to the gift as if it were God who has given it? We must cling to God who gives eternal life to us, who has never and will never fail us.
All that we have is to be used to love God and each other. God talks to us when he gives things to us and makes us who we are. He talks to us, telling us something we are to do and this always involves using his gifts for the benefit of others. This is true both with our material possessions and our spiritual gifts. Our money, our property, our education, our talents and skills, our health (or lack thereof), even graces he give us, all are given to us so we may set things right in the world, so that we may experience eternal life in heaven.
What does it take for us to live this way? We must come to understand that possessions are to be used, and people are to be loved. Let me repeat that: possessions are to be used and people are to be loved! All too often, we get it backward; we love our possessions and use people. This is a good definition of sin! We must be convinced that what we have been given really isn’t ours to keep, that we are mere stewards. It requires that we trust God and his providence, that he will take care of us. It requires we trust his will when he gives us the gifts in the first place. If we hang on to the belief that our wealth is only for our own benefit, or fail to believe that God is good, or if we only use people, then we will be corrupted by our wealth, our gifts, and we will dishonest stewards!
The prophet Amos railed against mistreatment of the poor by those who were rich, by those who put their trust in “mammon” as the Scriptures say, and cheated others. We cannot serve two masters we are told. The word “mammon” in Hebrew means something other than God in which one puts his faith. We cannot serve God is we are selfish. We cannot serve God if our trust is in mammon.
I knew a man once who had known what it was like to be homeless. He had lived on the streets of Denver for a period of time in his life, but with the help of others got on Social Security, obtained a small apartment and had the beginnings of normalcy in his life. He told me of walking through a park in a nearby town and seeing another man on a park bench in the winter, shivering in the cold without a coat. He told the man to stay put and he would return. He went to his apartment and retrieved a winter coat he had just bought for $40 and gave it to the homeless man. I have never forgotten this incident in which someone used his “wealth” in a just manner, just as Jesus is telling us we must do. I have no doubt God will credit him with an act of righteousness on judgment day.
We are mere stewards. Will we be good stewards? God wants us to use his gifts to build up his Kingdom, not ours. We always are tempted to build our own kingdoms according to our plans, monuments to ourselves, but these efforts alway eventually fail us.
Trust God. Trust his plan. Trust not your gifts and possessions but trust God who never fails us or corrupts us. Never. Be good stewards, wise stewards, prudent stewards of what he has given to you in this life. The reward is eternal happiness with him in heaven!