A worthy goal

September 18, 2022

Amos rains strong and specific condemnations down on those who cheat the poor and needy in today’s first reading. Unscrupulous merchants resented the laws that prevented making money on the sabbath or the day of the new moon, cheated customers by measuring amounts to their advantage (an ephah is approximately a bushel and a shekel was used to measure weight), and put the poor and lowly into debt over basic necessities. In his day or ours, look at who controls the machinery of commerce. Greedy, dishonest businesspersons can manipulate the instruments of wealth to their advantage, while the poor and desperate lack the power to demand fair treatment. We live in a society that considers the accumulation of material wealth to be a worthy goal. Even if we’re not greedy, we want to be able to provide for our families and for ourselves and free ourselves from the worry of being unable to pay the bills. In trying to serve both God and mammon, are we becoming more concerned about earning more money and improving our standard of living than in building up our spiritual wealth and growing closer to God? This is Jesus’ question to us. Will we recognize where our true wealth lies, the wealth that God gives freely to all, and reorganize our priorities in this light? The parable Jesus tells in today’s Gospel is a curious one, whose lessons are not as obvious as, say, the parables of the good Samaritan or the prodigal son. Perhaps one lesson is that material wealth can be used in a prudent way to provide for those in need. The dishonest, self-centered steward used his position prudently to ensure he could maintain his comfortable lifestyle after losing his job. As unselfish stewards of all God’s gifts, we can take what we have and prudently use it to serve others. Then, when our material wealth fails, as all material goods eventually will, we can hope to be “welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral  Patterns. World Library  Publication, 2022)

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