The liturgy of the Church continues to put before our eyes the teachings of Jesus that Luke left for us in his Gospel. Today Jesus teaches us a lesson which may help us in our society: the use of riches.
FIRST READING - PROPHET AMOS
Ø This prophet lived during the VIII BC. He was born in the Southern Kingdom, Judah; but the Lord called him to do his ministry as a prophet in the Northern Kingdom.
Ø He has been called the prophet of the justice of God.
Ø Justice as the Scripture understands it, not in the way our modern states understand it. We say that justice is to give to each one what is his or hers. We also say that justice is to abide the law.
Ø But for the people of the Bible, justice has to do with human relationships and also later on with human and divine relationships.
Ø It has to do with the mercy and the generosity that we discover so abundantly and surprisingly in the relationship of God with us.
Ø The just deeds of God are acts of liberation of his people from slavery.
Ø Jesus has manifested to us in a very clear and surprising way this justice of God, in the fact that the Son of God personally has come to live among us in order to make us just, with the justice of God, liberating us from the greatest of the slaveries: sin.
Ø Thus we may truly say that the book of Amos is about justice, not the justice of God but the lack of justice of the people.
ü Amos describes the lie, the lack of truth in the behavior of those who accumulate riches, to enjoy them without worrying about those less fortunate.
ü He describes persons who "abide" the law, with a fake repose, but God sees something else, he sees the lack of truth of his creature, those persons rest because they are constraint to do it, but while they do nothing apparently, they are planning their businesses.
ü They not only plan their business, they also think how they will cheat, take advantage and trick those more vulnerable.
ü The prophet Amos, who defended strongly the rights of all, puts in the mouth of God a sentence which terrifies us, if we take it seriously, "never will I forget a thing they have done!"
ü It does not frighten us, that God who "forgets and erases" all the sins we have committed, says that he will never forget the unjustice that we do to our brothers and sisters?
ü What will he say to our generation, to our society, in which millions of our brothers and sisters die from lack of what is most essential for the human life, while we waste money and possessions buying worthless things and making devices to kill?
ü Each one of us will give his or her own answer to that question.
ü I think that this is the purpose to choose these readings for the liturgy
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 113 PRAISE THE LORD WHO LIFTS UP THE POOR.
Praise, you servants of the Lord
praise the name of the Lord
blessed be the name of the Lord
both now and forever.
High above all nations is the Lord
above the heavens is his glory
who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
He raises up the lowly from the dust
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
to seat them with princes
with the princes of his own people.
v This psalm describes the works of the power of God, who bends towards the needy, the poorest, thus showing his mercy and justice.
GOSPEL Lk 16:1-3
This is a very interesting parable of Jesus.
It describes the situation of an employee, one who works for a salary, a steward to whom the master asks him to give an account of his administration, before he is fired from his job.
The reason to fire him is that he has been dishonest, he has not been faithful to his master, but has used his position for his own benefit, cheating.
Let us look more closely to the situation of that man:
· On one hand we realize that the behavior of this man is as dishonest as the behavior of those men described in the first reading. His life is a lie. He has the appearance of honesty and fidelity, while the truth is that he is dishonest and a liar.
· On the other hand we realize also that in some way he is able to be honest sometimes. He says the truth about himself: he cannot work because he has never worked, he is not able to beg, to ask for help, but he finds the way. He will lower the debts of all the debtors of his master. In this way he will continue to be in charge, he will not be subjected to them, because he knows that they are also dishonest, as much as he is. In a word he is blackmailing them.
Sometimes as I meditate on the situation of injustice in which we live in our societies, it seems to me that it is very similar to what the parable explains to us:
§ Those who "sell" to us, they really "buy" us instead, lowering the prices and giving two for one
§ Then our greed makes us blind and we do not see anymore the injustice around us.
§ Thus we do not denounce because if we do so, it we will be left without the benefits that they offer to us.
Jesus continues saying that the "children of the world", world understood as unjust society, are more prudent than those who try to live according to the values of the Kingdom.
Jesus continues saying that we use what the unjust riches produce to help others, and in so doing we will transform them in just riches if we share them with those less fortunate than us, with our employees ...
Something very interesting is that riches are presented as something we do not own we only are the stewards of it.
And this is the truth, none of us owns the riches, we only administer them. The call here is to administer with the justice of God, which is the same as the truth of God.
Strong message, this one, it knocks at the door of our heart strongly inviting us to live in the truth of God, in his justice which is made of mercy.
SECOND LETTER 1 Tm 2:1-8
v The author of this letter invites us to personal and community prayer
v A prayer with external movements.
v A prayer for those who govern us
v And not only pray for them for their own good
v But also for the good of all, so that we will be able to live in peace.
v The reason for this is the only mediator that we have, Christ Jesus who wants to save us.
v This second reading has something in common with the other two readings: peace and justice.
I was not contented at all with this response, rather I complained to my confessor for not having forced him to answer if I would profess or not because only with that, would I be tranquil since I was not eager to go or to remain, even though not to make my profession was tearing my soul because I had been ardently desiring it not only from my ten years of novitiate but since I had the use of reason. But, as soon as this saint would have said that to leave the convent could be for the glory of God (which was to divide my soul) I would have conformed myself to God’s will for, since God our Lord made me understand the holiness of that soul and the gifts of grace entrusted to him by his divine majesty, my confidence in him was so great that I seemed to hear God’s voice through his. But our Lord was not pleased to give this consolation: he preferred me to drink the chalice up to the last drop. Venerable María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 97.
The world has always striven to hinder and persecute me, but our Lord has taken care of me and frustrated all its evil designs. During the month of August, 1847, a number of bands of men called "The Early Risers" began to spring up all over Catalonia. The newspapers put it out that the leaders of these groups would do nothing without consulting Father Claret first. This was only a move of theirs to discredit my name and to invent some pretext for apprehending me and putting an end to my preaching. But God our Lord arranged matters so as to snatch me from their clutches. He sent me to preach in the Canary Islands, as I shall now relate. Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 477.
CLARET, Antonio María Claret, Autobiografía.
JENSEN, Joseph. Ethical Dimension of the Prophets. Collegeville, Minnesota 2006.
PAGOLA, José A. Following in the Footsteps of Jesus. Meditations on the Gospels for Year C.
PARIS, María Antonia, Autobiografía
RAVASI, Gianfranco, Según las Escrituras, Año C.
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentario a La Biblia de nuestro Pueblo.