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Scripture Reflections - September 18
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

READINGS
Amos 8:4-7
1 Timothy 2;1-8
Luke 16:1-13

Archives Msgr Paul E. Whitmore
Msgr. Paul E. Whitmore

There are several themes in this Sunday's readings.

The theme in the first reading from Amos concerns greed.

One of my father's favorite ways of describing his growing up on a farm was this: "We were poor, but we didn't know it!" In other words, his family knew the difference between “wants” and” needs”. While Americans live on a comfort scale well above the Third World, there is growing concern that the gulf between the “haves” and the “have nots” in our country has grown to the point of alarm. Greed for profit has seriously injured the rights of workers. If we are on the wrong track, then Catholic social teaching would suggest that we change direction.

How does God judge greed? The prophet Amos, while speaking in the eighth century B.C., might just as well be voicing God’s judgment on our present-day society. It is just not acceptable to Him! In fact, greed seems to be one of those sins which anger God the most. It's a question of good stewardship. When greed rules our lives, we make decisions that often deprive the poor.

Although the story in today’s Gospel about the unjust steward who is about to be fired is somewhat confusing, the main lesson is very clear: “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” How come? Because this steward, seeing he is about to be fired, reduces the debts of all his master’s debtors. In so doing, he makes his master look good, and makes friends of those debtors he had cheated by giving back to them by using his own commission! Even though he lost his job, he neatly provides for his future state of unemployment. He was a very clever man.

God so wishes that his followers, in spreading the Kingdom, would imitate the cleverness of the worldly! One saintly medieval commentator, Cornelius a Lapide, suggests that we, His sinful, struggling disciples, would show some cleverness in securing our salvation. How? By praying earnestly every day for our brothers and sisters in purgatory, so that when we die and are in that place of purification ourselves, those for whom our prayers have earned Heaven may return the favor and beseech the Lord to shorten our stay there and bring us immediately to eternal joy. That, according to a Lapide, is the meaning of “Make friends for yourselves of the mammon of dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

In these present days of so many starving families, we can help them by generous giving. Perhaps they will in turn pray for us!

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