The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 22nd September 2019
Lectionary Readings: Am 8:4-7; Ps113:1-2. 4-8; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Theme: There is one God, the Savior of all

The gospel reading set out for today is actually made up of two parts: a parable and a lesson on being faithful in small things and an extension on the use of ‘mammon’. We are told that the steward had squandered his master’s property and for that he was going to be dismissed. Being wise with money and knowing his Master’s clients much better than his Master did, he decides to extend a hand of friendship so that he may not be lost when he loses his job. He lessens their huge bills, cutting down what was due to his Master. The Master, instead of being furious with his continued dishonesty, praises his astuteness.

As a parable this should have a surprise ending and it does – the steward known as ‘the dishonest steward’ has again reduced his Master’s income (for his own benefit!) and the Master praises him because of his earthly wisdom.

Jesus then takes the stage and shows where he is in the parable – he praises the ‘dishonest steward’ like the ‘Master’ in his parable because earthly wise people can show spiritual dwarfs how to use ‘mammon’ (referring to property and/ or money) as a means and not as an end in itself.

On the twenty-third Sunday of the year we read Lk 14:25-33 where Jesus again refers to worldly wisdom regarding how we go about building a structure (tower) or facing an army much larger than our own. We plan, measure and seek ways to prevent destruction of either ourselves or our reputation. Why can we not apply this wisdom to our following of Christ?

The first reading from Amos describes how ‘mammon’ is made a god to the detriment of God’s children – the poor and oppressed. A warning sounds out from the Lord through Amos: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. (Amos 8:7)

The Responsorial Psalm (in Jewish Tradition one of the Hallel psalms used especially at the Feasts of Passover, Shavuot and Tabernacles) takes up two themes from the Gospel: You cannot serve God and Mammon (Lk 16:13b) and the consequences of placing ‘mammon’ before God. The psalm describes why the Lord is the true God: High above all nations is the Lord, above the heavens his glory (Ps 113:4). What does this Lord God of ours do for those abused and oppressed by the lovers of ‘mammon’? The Lord lifts them up ‘from the dust and the ash heap’ and ‘sets them in the company of the princes’ who have chosen the Lord as their Master (Ps 113:7-8).

Paul urges Timothy to pray, intercede and offer supplications and thanksgiving for all people, kings and all those in high positions. Why does he want this? If we follow this exhortation we shall be able to lead quiet and peaceful lives behaving in ‘godly and respectful’ ways. This is not the way we serve ‘mammon’ (which seems to be the way of the political and even religious world today) but it is the way we serve God our Savior, who desires all men (people) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tm 2:3). The truth is: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men (all people), the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all (2:5-6). He ‘paid’ for us by his death and not with ‘mammon’!

For Reflection and Discussion: [1] I examine myself as to whether my lip service is to the one and only God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ while my lifestyle is bordering on service to ‘mammon’. [2] Do I pray for political and religious leaders with sincerity – God wants everyone to be saved – or do I make fun of and criticize them? Where does my responsibility lie?

Bibliography: King, N. The New Testament, (Great Britain: 2004); McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965); The African Bible, (Nairobi: 1999).

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