READINGS: Amos 8:4-7/ 1 Timothy 2:1-8/ Luke 16:1-13
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In God, the virtues of mercy and justice blend perfectly. He, who is perfectly merciful, is perfectly just as well, because He is perfection itself. Last Sunday’s message was about God’s ineffable mercy and forgiveness, whereas today’s is about the stewardship that His justice requires of us. In His goodness, God has entrusted us with many resources; and He expects us to account for how we use them. Let us sum up what God has endowed each of us with by the four (4) T’s: time, talent, toil and treasure. In view of the focus of today’s readings, we will treat the first three T’s only briefly and dwell more on the fourth one.
We will one day account for the way we have used our time. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of our lives vary; and so each of us is a unique steward for the time allotted him/her on this earth. Are we using our time to glorify God, to help others and to enhance our talent, toil and treasure?
Talents are our inherent natural gifts and/or gifts of the Holy Spirit. How are we using our talents? Once again, we shall pass God’s test of stewardship if we use our talents to glorify God, to help others and to enhance our treasure.
Here, toil means our strength (energy) and condition of health by which we exert efforts to develop our talents, expand our treasure and help others. Here too, we shall pass God’s test of stewardship if we use our toil to enhance our talent and treasure while glorifying God and helping others.
Our treasure is our wealth and/or occupation. How are we using our wealth and/or occupation? In the first reading, the prophet Amos denounced those who instead of using their business (treasure) to glorify God, used it to discredit God as they gloried in corrupt profits. Instead of using their treasure to benefit the poor, they dehumanized them by, for instance, buying a poor person at the price of a pair of sandals. Instead of genuinely enhancing their business, they corrupted it (its profit came from the tampering of measuring cans and weighing scales, and the sale of the refuse of wheat).
Today, we also dehumanize others in our business when we place profit above the value of human life and dignity. And we tamper with the measurements and scales when we squeeze out more profit than it is reasonable. As employees/workers, we tamper with the measurements and scales, when our work-input (hours and effort) is less than what we are paid for.
Worse of all, some people combine the discrediting of God, dehumanization and the sale of refuse. This happens when, for instance, some people produce and sell fake drugs, expired or unwholesome foods, etc., with no guilty conscience at all. In these cases, imagine unsuspecting consumers literally buying ill-health and death! Such immoral “treasure looters” can certainly not pass the stewardship test of God.
What about the student whose occupation is to study and give good account of him/herself in school and thereafter? He/she dehumanizes him/herself by truancy and tampers with the scales through cheating during tests or examinations. Certainly, their truancy and cheating can in no way glorify God!
Beloved, like the steward/manager in the Gospel reading, we can begin to make amends today. First, he reckoned that (after his dismissal) he would not be strong enough to dig nor be comfortable begging. Consequently, he decided to make friends through the resources he managed. We, on the other hand, will not be given the opportunity to dig (even if we have the strength to dig) nor the opportunity to beg (even if we were not ashamed to beg) in the afterlife. Fortunately, however, as long as we are alive, we have the opportunity to make use of the resources of time, talent, toil and treasure to make friends with God: by glorifying Him and helping others with these resources. May we, therefore, make good use of the opportunities we have until the Lord calls us. Amen.
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis