Use human intelligence and ingenuity to make the right friends!
Readings: Amos 8, 4-7; Ps 113, 1-8; 1Tim 2, 1-8; Lk 16, 1-13
The Word of God for us on the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C to make sensible use of human intelligence and ingenuity, human power and resources for the sake of the poor and oppressed. In this way, we imitate God who has made a preferential option for the disadvantaged of all times. If we make the poor our friends, then we have people who will count in our favour in the end. The best way of investment is to help the poor.
The prophet Amos was sent by God to preach against the vices of the wealthy. His prophecies are about condemnation and destruction. He was right in his hard speech. The fact remains that the rich continue to trample on the poor. Their property, especially land, is continuously being grabbed. This is an evil way of using power and resources because it makes the poor more vulnerable. The invitation remains today: “Hear this, you who destroy the poor of the land!” God will certainly hear the cries of the poor.
St. Paul urges his son Timothy to offer prayers for those in authority. You may have noticed that in our general prayer of intercession we always pray for the leaders of the Church and society. Praying for the leaders is very important. Our civil and religious leaders greatly shape the life others must live. We must admit that being a leader does not necessarily mean that one has a true grasp of the common vision. Leaders need God’s assistance in all the decisions they take for others. It is very easy to criticize leaders who do not meet our expectations. Paul invites us to pray without anger or quarreling. May we substitute our impulse for criticism of leaders with constant prayers! This might change them more than we expect.
The story of the devious steward in the gospel leaves many people scratching their heads. Is this the Gospel? Is Jesus praising a man for being dishonest? Is he congratulating a cheat for being good at what he does? This leaves us all perplexed. The steward is doubly dishonest. He first cheats his employer and then makes his master’s debtors complicit with him in his crime. This is the only place in scripture where human intelligence and ingenuity are praised. Why would Jesus use an example of dishonesty?
What Jesus praises is not dishonesty but ingenuity. The steward did not give himself up to grumbling, despair, and inaction. He used his intelligence to plot his course toward salvation. He used his “temporary influence” and material goods to make the kind of friends he will need to survive beyond his present situation. He uses worldly systems to remain afloat. Many times we fall into the trap of making our lives secure and comfortable. The urge of being influential here on earth makes us compromise the Kingdom's values. As children of light, may we remain committed to the values that Jesus has taught us and live our lives focused on God! Let us be astute in seeking God’s Kingdom and His values. Let us not forget that one way of finding God is by being close to the poor. Instead of exploiting them, let us be committed to defending their rights, at least, to the little they have! Those at the “bottom of our community” will have reason to speak for us in the world to come. In whatever we do and are, let us submit ourselves to God and not become slaves of money! Do you want to invest the surplus of your wealth? Give it to the poor!