This week is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings remind us that we need to be faithful and prudent stewards of God’s many gifts and blessings. We need to do everything possible to prepare for the coming of the Lord, the Day of Judgment, which no one knows when it will happen, but the readings remind us to always be prepared for it. The readings, therefore, serve as a warning as well as a wakeup call.
The first reading is taken from the Book of Amos. Amos is often referred to as “the prophet of justice.” There was so much injustice exerted by the rich and powerful in Israel that Amos urged: “let justice surge like water and goodness like an unfailing stream.” In other words, the prophet reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh by practicing justice and mercy as God’s faithful stewards. Amos rebuked the people who did not care for the poor. He also warned those who valued money and wealth as their goals. The prophet reminded the people that God would not tolerate the abuse of the weak. In short, the prophet tells them to be faithful to the Covenant relationship between God and His people, with loving compassion and concern for the unfortunate, and to always act with honesty and integrity, which are some of the distinguishing qualities of a God–centered community.
Paul, as we know, worked extensively to persuade Jewish and Gentile Christians to respect each other and not to compartmentalize God’s salvation. Hence, in today’s second reading, Paul reminds Timothy and his congregation that God’s concern extends to all people, not just themselves or a group of people as understood in the Old Testament. Some scholars think that some early Jewish Christians might have refused to pray for nonbelievers, and that this passage was intended to correct that mistake. In the passage, Paul insists again that he has been called to take the Gospel to all people. Paul was faithful to his calling, and for that he won the title, “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” Paul requested prayers for civil rulers and those in positions of authority, so that all people might live a quiet and peaceable life and come to salvation through the one mediator, Christ Jesus. This teaching is mirrored in our modern Prayers of the Faithful that we recite during Mass, which embrace the needs of the whole world, not just those of the faith community.
In the Gospel we have the story of a crooked but resourceful manager who challenges us to use our blessings—time, talents, and treasure—wisely and justly so that we will be rewarded at the proper time, the Day of Judgment. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and for the needs of others around us more generously. The reading also reminds us that we are stewards of His blessings, and they are entrusted to us not only for our needs, but also for the needs of others. The manager in the Gospel recognized the gravity of losing his soul. He used all his resources, some which were even dishonest, to secure his future, and Jesus praised him for it. This might seem confusing. Why did Jesus praise the dishonest servant? What is the point that Jesus is trying to convey? What Jesus means here is to use everything possible at our disposal to secure our future, eternal life.
We are blessed with every resource possible. We have everything we need to secure the future: the Holy Eucharist, the Sacraments, the Holy Bible, and the teachings of the Church to live a true Christian life. If we use these God–given resources wisely, God will commend us just as the master commended the dishonest manager for acting prudently. We must recognize that what really matters, at the time of our judgment, is how wisely we have used and shared our God–given blessings.
Let us remember Saint John Chrysostom’s warning whose feast we celebrated a week ago, “Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.” Also take note of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s reminder, “Do little things with great love.” Therefore, let us not ignore doing little things, like acknowledging a favor someone does for us, by saying a sincere “thank you,” or congratulating others for their successes, or sharing in their sorrows, or offering them help and support in their needs.
Finally, I will be attending the annual priest’s retreat in Temecula from September 23rd through 27th, along with other priests from our diocese. Please keep us in your prayers. During the convocation we will have Communion Service on Tuesday, and my cousin, Rev. Lenin Raj, will celebrate Mass on Wednesday and Thursday. For any spiritual needs, please contact Bob Ulrich, our business manager, for assistance.