Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
September 22, 2019 – (25thSunday in Ordinary Time)
Amos 8:4-7 Ps. 113:1-2, 4-8 1 Tim. 2:1-8 Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13
- The liturgy today focuses attention first on the dishonesty and unscrupulous attitudes and practices of those caught up in the idolatry of wealth and consumption. They value their unjust financial pursuits more than their religious practices or beliefs.
- In the context of the Season of Creation, these include the people today who will subordinate the sacred mission of care for creation to “the economy” and the advance of their personal financial interests. It includes those who have no concern or scruples about what their economic activities are doing to the poor, to the whole Web of Life.
- The prophet Amos and the psalmist warn that God will not forget their actions. God has special care for the poor and power to raise them up and “seat them with princes.”
- In the gospel, Jesus reminds us through the parable of the unjust steward what is most important in life and what constitutes the true “good life.”
Penitential Rite Suggestion
(It should be noted that although the Roman Missal gives various optional formulations for the penitential rite, it also allows for “other invocations. These are intended to help shape the community’s repentance” in accord with the scriptural message of the day.)
As we begin our liturgy, let’s enter into the quiet of our spirits, asking for openness to the conversion God is offering us, for commitment in our actions to what is truly most important in life in God’s sight….
- Creator God, for all the ways we participate consciously or unconsciously in the idolatry of wealth and consumption, of destructive forms of so-called “progress” or “development,”
Creator Spirit of God, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you remind us of the wisdom of nurturing relationships in our search for security and the good life rather than putting our trust in accumulating wealth. You insist that we cannot have both but must choose between God and Mammon.
Word of God, have mercy.
- Holy Spirit of God, the true Source of wisdom and understanding, You are raising up people in movements around the world in mission to resist the idolatry of wealth and consumption and to work together in the Web of Life for the care and healing of our common home.
Wisdom of God, have mercy.
May God, Creator of all cosmic time and space and the vast Web of Life in which we live, have mercy on us, free us from our sins, and guide us into the fullness of divine Life. Amen.
Points for Reflection on the Scriptures
- Amos’s description of the attitudes, dishonest business practices, and abuse of the poor is classic. People in every generation can recognize it.
- In the context of the Season of Creation, we must not overlook the fact that those attitudes, and practices that abuse of the poor include disregard for the care of nature and the Web of Life, disregard that is generating and worsening the current complex socio-ecological crisis.
- It is widely acknowledged that the poor suffer first and most in times of socio-ecological crisis and breakdown.
- The changing climate is bringing new patterns of drought and flood and more violent storms that affect the poor on marginal lands the most, too often leaving them unable to feed themselves.
- Overproduction [Earth Overshoot data] and vast inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources around the planet lock the poor into their poverty and steal the promise of a more just and sustainable future from them and from generations yet to come.
- These are social realities that will guarantee increasing migration and greater social unrest and conflict.
- Those who want the lands of poor and indigenous peoples for plantations or mining or other economic interests often take them by force. [Cf. the Preparatory Document for the Synod, ## 2-3]
- For example, from the earliest days of colonization and slavery in the Amazon, indigenous peoples fled from the riverbanks and lakes into the inner jungle where they learned to watch over and care for the land and waters that supported their lives.
- Now expansive economic interests and the rapid growth of cities are pressing deeper into the jungle, threatening the wealth of forests and rivers and the survival of the indigenous peoples and other members of the Web of Life dependent on them.
- Now increasingly the indigenous people of the Amazon are fleeing their lands and migrating to the cities where they suffer from xenophobia, exploitation, trafficking, etc.
- Last week we noted that the purchase of everyday items in nations around the world contribute to the economic incentives to destroy the Amazon rainforest to create large agribusinesses such as palm oil plantations and cattle farms.
- Have you found out whether through your purchases you contribute to the economic incentives for those expansive economic interests in the Amazon and thereby participate in the harm done to indigenous peoples?
- Have you discovered ways to demand an end to these unjust and destructive business practices? Ways to support just and sustainable business practices and support the poor and indigenous peoples?
- Can you stand up with efforts like Climate Strike and Earth Strike to call for significant action by nations everywhere to address these important issues?
- Amos affirms that God will not forget what is being done and the psalmist praises God Who lifts up the poor.
- For example, in the Amazon, indigenous peoples are organizing and writing their own histories, documenting their cultures, customs, traditions and knowledge.
- Pope Francis has recognized that “Their worldview and wisdom have much to teach those of us who do not belong to their culture.” He is calling the Church around the world to respectful dialogue with indigenous peoples on the interrelationships, the interconnectedness of all creatures.
- In the gospel, the steward is praised for his prudence because he recognizes that his future will not be secured by gathering up his commissions [or more], his part of the rich man’s wealth. He uses the wealth to make friends who will welcome him and support him in the future.
- Jesus taught and Catholic social tradition has long emphasized that the successful human life is not measured by the accumulation of wealth or power. The “good life” is the fruit of strong and loving relationships, bonds of friendship and justice, and commitment to community wellbeing.
- “Mammon” means “what we trust in.” Jesus is very clear: we cannot put our trust in both God and money. The severe socio-ecological crisis in these times indicates how a practical idolatry of wealth, pursuing it and valuing it above all else, threatens and destroys God’s gifts in creation and our sacred mission to care for it and share it in gratitude and love.
- Are you choosing? Or are you hoping to hang onto both God and Mammon? How do you experience the conflicts involved in trying to serve both God and money?
- True “progress” and authentic human “development,” as understood in Pope Francis’s teaching on integral ecology, are characterized by rich and growing personal, social, and ecological harmony.
- Integral conversion requires structural changes in social habits, laws, and corresponding economic programs. Evangelization must contribute to this.
- Are you currently living this gospel vision of the “good life?” Is your community? What next steps in integral conversion are possible for you?
- Although Jesus insists that we must choose sides between God and Mammon, Paul reminds Timothy to pray for everyone because God wills everyone to be saved and come to know the Truth.
- Do we pray for those we believe to be driven by greed and disregard for their destructive impacts on the Web of Life? Do we believe that our prayer for them is important? Can we look upon them with love as God does?
- How might we help them to come to know the Truth?
General Intercessions Petition
- That we may grow in our understanding of and love for the “good life” to which Christ calls us, a life of commitment to grateful, loving and just relationships with God, with the whole human family, and with the vast Web of Life in which we live and breathe and have our being, we pray.
- For fruitful work and courageous commitments by the nations of the world at tomorrow’s UN Climate Action Summit to fight and end climate change, we pray…
James E. Hug, S.J.