Homily for September 18

Image source

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily


If you find this gospel passage a little confusing,
that means you were paying close attention!

St. Luke offers us here a number of Jesus’ sayings
about wealth and money and he attaches them all
to this parable of the shrewd steward.
So we might walk away, scratching our heads, wondering:
what’s the difference between dishonest wealth
and honest wealth?
Who is the trustworthy steward
and who is not to be trusted?
Are we supposed to hate money or make friends with it?

The words of Jesus here are drenched
in the customs and economy of ancient Mediterranean culture.
Jesus always spoke in the context and terms
of his own culture and times,
but he spoke a word intended for all cultures and all times.
What, then, are we to make of his words in our own day?
You can boil the whole message in this passage
down to three words:
Money. Isn’t. Everything.
Now, most people won’t disagree with that in theory
but the proof comes not so much in the theory
as it does in practice.

It’s possible that we might say 
we believe money isn’t everything
but our life-style, the choices and decisions we make,
our investments, our work habits and our life’s goals
all might tell a different story.

This passage is filled with references to stewardship,
wealth, accounting practices, debt and discounts,
promissory notes, financial networking
- and some retirement planning.
This sounds more like the Wall Street Journal than the bible!
Jesus counsels us here 
to be as crafty as the dishonest steward
but in another venue.
 He’s calling us to be crafty in preparing for
- not that retirement condo at the shore -
but for that “eternal dwelling,”
he has prepared and reserved for us - in the next life.

In reminding us that we can’t serve two masters,
that we can’t serve both God and wealth,
he’s asking us to look at the time and attention we give
to the complexities of financial planning
and to compare that with how we prepare and plan
for our spiritual health and future.
Another way of getting at this would be to ask,
 “If I were to approach my financial responsibilities
the way I approach my spiritual responsibilities,
like my prayer life:
-- what kind of shape would my finances be in?”
In which “future” am I more fully, carefully invested?
My future as the Wall Street Journal forecasts it?
Or the bottom line reported 
on the balance sheet of my heart?

And here’s the really hard part:
Jesus says we have to choose between the two!
There can be only one master:
no provision here, no option for co-masters or partnerships.
That’s not to suggest 
that we abandon financial responsibility:
this passage actually highlights good stewardship of our resources.
But the Lord says we need to make a choice 
between God and money,
and let one, and only one, be the master of our lives,
the One by which we live and make choices and decisions.

Which one then, whom, do I serve 
-  not in theory, but in practice?
Do I track the stability and health of my spiritual life
as often, as well, as carefully, as anxiously,
as I track the growth of my financial well-being?

Warren Buffett the billionaire 
is another shrewd steward, indeed.
You might be familiar with Buffet’s two rules for investing:
Rule Number One: don’t lose the money!
Rule Number Two: don’t forget Rule Number One!
Jesus offers similar advice for our investment in spirituality:
Rule Number One: don’t lose your soul!
Rule Number Two: don’t forget Rule Number One!

To help us in all of this,
Jesus, who, on the Cross, fully invested himself in our lives
invites us every week to his table
to form us in his word and to give us, in the Eucharist,
a taste and a sip of that peace of mind and heart
that depends not on the stock market’s variables      
but only on the grace of God.

Our greatest wealth is God’s love for us
and God’s love cannot be bought or sold or traded:
it can only be treasured, served and shared.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!