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Sep 20, 2013 Written by 

25th Sunday in Ordinary time-year C (22nd September, 2013) Be the first to comment!

Too often, the rich and even the not-so-rich are too attentive to their possessions to hear, to care and to act. Therefore, it is good for us to be here once again in the company of the sacred texts, whose living words will ask of us, “Will you be stewards of your own wealth, or stewards of one another? Will wealth be the source of blessing for both givers and receivers, or will wealth and our use of this world’s possessions deafen us to the needs of others? If our wealth is our greatest treasure here and now, it may also be our deepest regret for all of eternity. These words may appear harsh, but they are not unique.

First reading: Amos 8:4-7

Amos deemed it necessary to speak out boldly, even in an offensive manner, in order to awaken care for the poor in the consciences of his contemporaries. “Steward your poor ones among you,” he urged. “More precious than the shekel and silver are the needy of the land.” These are the ones that deserve to benefit from the investment of one’s time, talents and treasure. Amos’ powerful and passionate words have resonated through the centuries in hearts like his who have been mindful of the challenge of social stewardship.

Let it sink in our minds today that a person’s true wealth hereafter is the good he/she does in this world to fellow human beings. When one dies, people will say, ‘what property has he left behind him?’ Although the 8th century B.C prophet Amos lived at a time when his people had yet to become aware of the blessing of eternal life, he did understand the importance of good deeds that eased the path of the needy. He was also convinced that good deeds, like bad ones, reap their consequences here and now. For that reason, he soundly criticized the rich for neglecting the poor and warned that such actions would bring about the downfall of the wealthy. In next Sunday’s first reading, the prophet will describe that downfall in ominous terms. Today, however, we hear Amos holding forth for the poor who are being cheated by dishonest merchants and bankers. So eager were they for profit that they wanted the legislated Sabbath rest to end so they could get back to the business of making a shilling, or, in Amos’ world, a shekel. While we readily understand his references to “tipping the scales in their own favor” and “selling the chaff along with the wheat,” we may not be quite so clear on the notion of “buying the lowly for a pair of sandals.” When poor people wished to buy something but had no money, they sometimes put themselves up as collateral. In the event that they could not scrape together even the cost of a pair of sandals, the seller to whom they were indebted could sell that poor one as a slave in order to recoup the money.

Because Amos, like his prophetic colleagues, was convinced of the radical union of ethics and religion, he insisted that dishonest behaviors in the marketplace rendered the liturgy in the sacred place a lie! We can conclude that Amos held no store in conceptions of religion that are characterized by a cleavage between ethics and theology, an idea prevalent in the modern world. It is our sacred obligation as Christians and as a Church to challenge the two great social evils of our time namely poverty and war. There are people even here in these pews who resent the intrusion of the world’s troubles into the tidy order of corporate Sunday worship. There are also preachers who are reluctant to challenge the institutional fabric of the Church by invoking the social shortfalls of society. However, in its very essence, our Christian faith demands such confrontations so as to promote the changes that will ensure growth in Gospel values. Authentic social stewardship requires that our ethics be an expression of our theology and our liturgy a reflection of our lived faith. Then will the poor be properly served and war be purposefully avoided. On the other side of the world, people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta exercised a similar stewardship among the untouchables who lay sick and dying in the streets of Calcutta when asked how she could touch and even caress those whom others could not even bring themselves to look at or speak to, Mother Teresa of Calcutta said that she “could not do otherwise.” Her love for Jesus and the Church and her commitment to the Gospel compelled her stewardship of the poor. When she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she could think of no other way to use the money than to further the stewardship of God’s little ones. Today, Amos has reminded us that humanity is “broke” and that the community needs to rethink the manner in which we exercise our stewardship of the poor.

Second Reading: 1Timothy 2:1-8

After the golden age under Kings David and Solomon, the kingdoms of Israel and Judah experienced wave after wave of oppression. First the Babylonians, then the Medes, then the Greeks and finally the Romans held sway over what once was a free people. Through the centuries, the Hebrew tribes chafed at the bit of foreign occupation. Occasionally they rebelled, only to be cowed again into submission. With the coming of their long-awaited Messiah, they hoped that their political situation would improve, but Jesus was not the military leader they had expected. Therefore, it became necessary to adjust to a different way of being in the world. The audience of 1Timothy belonged unconditionally to Jesus and fully surrendered to his leadership, yet they were also Roman subjects. St Paul, while writing 1Timothy encouraged the general audience to pray for those in authority over them so that they might survive under the heavy thumb of the empire, to live quiet and tranquil lives.

At first reading, this attitude adjustment on the part of believers in Jesus may seem like a compromise, but it might be more correctly appreciated as an accommodation. In the world but not of it, Christians are being challenged not to overthrow the powers that be, but to offer to their social group an alternate lifestyle. This alternative, which was afforded to all believers through the saving sacrifice of Jesus, attempts to change the world, not from without by force but from within, by grace.

For St Paul, even the Roman Empire was included in God’s salvific plan when he affirms that “God wills everyone to be saved” 1Timothy 2:4. Despite their dangerous situation under the Romans, the audience of 1Timothy are to “offer supplications, prayers and petitions on their behalf” 1Timothy 2:1, so that they may come to know the truth. How difficult it must have been for these Christians to pray for those who were their persecutors. The attitude they are called to practice here is precisely the attitude of Jesus, who counseled his followers to “love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” Luke 6:27-28. Taking these words to heart, St Paul while writing to Timothy insisted that the Roman Empire was not merely to be tolerated as a hostile overseer but as a beneficiary of the love of God made flesh in Jesus. Down to the present age, we are challenged to continue to live our faith within environments that are at times aggressive and coercive. Despite the opposition and hostility we may encounter, as followers of Jesus, we are called to steward even our enemies. To that end, we are to pray for all without exception, motivated by our acceptance that God wills everyone, without exception, to be saved.

Gospel: Luke 16:1-13

As we try to grasp the truth being taught in this Gospel, we are argued to keep in mind that this is a parable. In this parable, the master represents God and the steward is Israel, who is supposed to be God’s property manager and the light of God’s world. But Israel has not lived up to its responsibility and is under the threat of dismissal. Against this historical backdrop, the parable asks: “What ought Israel to do?” In their attempt to become worthier stewards of God, the Scribes and Pharisees resorted to a more stringent application of the law. Although it was well-intentioned, this legal emphasis resulted in the exclusion of many of the people they were intended to steward. It was to these that Jesus reached out with welcome. In this parable, Jesus invites his audience to do the same. However, this will require throwing caution to the wind and setting aside the extra bits and pieces of the law, which the Pharisees have heaped up. Thus disencumbered, Israel is to make friends wherever they can in order to bring those friends to God.

In this Gospel, however challenging it may sound, the dishonest manager’s actions exemplify something of the character of reasonable stewardship. Caught in a crime and about to lose his job, the steward of his rich employer’s property became quite creative in assuring his own survival. His willingness to take any steps and risks are necessary challenges for us to imitate by being ready to depart from the tried and true and risk something new. When the traditional methods of stewarding God’s poor ones are no longer viable, why not be willing to attempt another way? “We’ve always done it this way” is an excuse that has held back many a good plan and frustrated many a willing steward. “If it is not broken, don’t fix it!” is another way of justifying failure to make the changes necessary to accommodate to changing times and ever evolving needs.

In his willingness to forego his present status in order to make friends who might help him in the future, the dishonest steward offers an example of the risk taking that is a necessary aspect of belonging to Christ. This belonging always involves letting go of the safe, the familiar and the comfortable in order to enter into the fray of life in this often unyielding and hostile world. Jesus could have remained in the safety of Nazareth, content to form discussion groups with anyone who was interested. He could have steered clear of Jerusalem and confined himself to the small villages where news of him would have been slow to circulate. But he did not opt for safety or even longevity. Those who wish to be his disciples are challenged to follow his example in risk taking for the sake of God’s reign.

Application

Even if the world we live in could be a pretty shabby place, full of dishonesty and deceit, we have to do all good possible to create an occasion that will assist us to be spontaneous, creative and determined to gain salvation. Look at this crooked businessman who had the nerve and sense to forego a short-term reward in favor of a later, larger one! When he knew that his business life was over, he had the courage to risk present baubles for a future nest egg.

And then Jesus sadly considered the way some of his listeners were responding to their challenge. Jesus told them that that the kingdom of God was at hand, that they had to make a definite decision for or against him, that they could not choose both light and darkness, that they had to have the courage to trade a little worldly loss for a huge heavenly retirement. Jesus must have been amazed and appalled at how so many worldly people were more faithful to their goals than spiritual people were to theirs; what a shame that people who lived in darkness were wiser than people whom Jesus had enlightened!

And where do we stand? Are we aware that we are merely stewards of this world’s goods? Do we fully comprehend that we are only managers of our own lives, which came from God and will end at God? Are we convinced that we can be called to account at any moment, and that all we have to offer the Master is whatever scraps of love can be salvaged from the rubble of our lives? Do we have the sense to let go of trinkets that distract us from the pearl of great price? Do we have the discipline to take the long view? Government and NGO programs are in place and do, in fact, meet some of the needs of the human family. But there is no substitute for one-on-one reaching out to another as we offer the stewardship of our care. In the end, we will not be judged by the effectiveness of our welfare system but by the care we shared, the love we offered and the cup of cold water we gave in Jesus’ name. That is the way to pursue.

 

11116 Last modified on Friday, 20 September 2013 05:49
Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo

Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo is a Comboni Missionary Priest. He holds a PhD in Moral Theology from Academia Alphonsiana Lateran University Rome. Currently he is the Assistant Parish Priest Our Lady of Africa Mbuya- Kampala and Secretary Missionary Animation Comboni Missionaries Uganda. For the last twenty years he has worked as missionary in Kenya where he served in various capacities as National Youth Chaplain, Secretary of National Lay Apostolate, Secretary and Director Missionary Animation, Parish Priest Holy Trinity Kariobangi, Director of Radio Waumini Kenya, Program presenter of Know Your Faith Vatican Radio, Staff writer with National Mirror and New People Magazine, Theologian of Kenya Episcopal Conference, Dean of Eastland’s, Visiting Lecturer on Ethics, Social Doctrine to various Universities, Board Member various Colleges and Secondary Schools, member of College of Consultors Archdiocese of Nairobi, Theologian Delegate to the Second Africa Synod on Reconciliation, Justice and Peace and Synod on New Evangelization for transmission of Christian faith.

Tel 0787058387

Email: Pmondo@ourladyofafrica.org

Website: www.ourladyofafrica.org

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Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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