Sunday, 19 Sep – Using Material Wealth To Buy Spiritual Wealth

19 Sep – Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lord Of The Oppressed
Christ is the defender of all who are sacrificed to the god of money, who are manipulated for economic gain. He sacrificed Himself as a ransom for them all.

– The Sunday Missal
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Amos 8:4-7

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy
and try to suppress the poor people of the country,
you who say, ‘When will New Moon be over
so that we can sell our corn,
and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?
Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel,
by swindling and tampering with the scales,
we can buy up the poor for money,
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.’
The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob,
‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done.’
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1 Timothy 2:1-8

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and mankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and – I am telling the truth and no lie – a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans.

In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.
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Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty.”

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?

‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
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There should be prayers offered for everyone, especially for kings and others in authority

At a gathering in my home some time ago, the dinner conversation turned to the subject of divorces. One of our friends, a lawyer specialising in family law, told us how when married couples divorce, the woman can apply for maintenance from her husband even if she earns more than the husband. This law comes from the Women’s Charter created to protect women from the consequences of divorce at a time of social inequality. Today, this law is sometimes exploited to make men who earn nothing or less pay for their working wife who earns more.

In today’s first reading, we see the prophet Amos speaking about those who manipulate laws and the economy for personal benefit while exploiting the poorer people. The gospel passage of the dishonest steward is an unusual twist because in telling the parable Jesus seems to be praising dishonesty. But on more careful reflection, we see Jesus is telling us something very important.

Often Catholics shy away talk about money because we are told that the love of money is the root of all evil. But yet the Catholic Church is very much involved with money because it operates many charities in service of the poor. In fact Jesus talks a lot about money too. In many of His parables, He teaches His disciples about the importance of money and how to use it (stewardship) – something I have found often lacking in our churches today.

Today’s gospel passage is also about stewardship. In it, the dishonest servant recognised that as steward, the money he had to manage was not his own. Knowing that he would soon be dismissed from his position, he used that money which he did not own to buy himself friends. He used tangible money to buy intangible friendship. This is the key message in today’s gospel passage – use what is tangible to buy ourselves intangible treasures; use material wealth which rots away to buy ourselves spiritual wealth which never grows old.

In today’s second reading, St. Paul gives Timothy advice, asking first of all to offer prayers for everyone, especially for kings and those in authority. The world today can be an unfair place, especially for those financially poor. Our leaders need wisdom from above and a discerning heart to make or change laws that will protect the poor and defenceless. If it is already so difficult for us to be good stewards of the money we have, imagine how much more difficult it is for those who have to be stewards of the country’s money!

Today, let us take up St. Paul’s advice and pray for our leaders, our government, and those who manage huge sums of money that affect the livelihoods of millions of people. Let us pray that they make wise decisions that protect the poor against those who seek to exploit them.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: Dear Lord, we place in your hands our leaders, our government, and all who You have placed in authority over us. Grant them a discerning mind and heart to do what is right by You.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for good stewards, and those who teach us to do the same.

Upcoming Readings:
Mon, 20 Sep – Proverbs 3:27-34; Luke 8:16-18; Memorial for Ss Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Korean Martyrs; Memorial for Ss Laurent Imber, Bishop Jacques Chastan, priest (Martyrs of College General Penang, Malaysia)
Tue, 21 Sep – Ephesians 4:1-7; Matthew 9:9-13; Feast of St Matthew, Apostle & Evangelist
Wed, 22 Sep – Proverbs 30:5-9; Luke 9:1-6
Thu, 23 Sep – Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Luke 9:7-9; Memorial for St Pius of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), Priest
Fri, 24 Sep – Ecclesiastes 3:1-11; Luke 9:18-22
Sat, 25 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9-12.8; Luke 9:43-45;
Sun, 26 Sep – Amos 6:1.4-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31; Twenty-sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

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