Homily 25th Sunday of Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings Amos 8:4-7; Ps 113:1-8; 1 Tim 2:1-8 and Luke 16:1-13
Service of God through the Poor
Today’s readings are quite interesting. It focuses on the need for us to always treat one another especially the poor and the margin of the society with dignity. It is also about the need for us to wisely make good use of all the material things God has blessed us with, including our money. Wealth has to be gotten honestly. The readings again invite us to always act, even in living and preaching the gospel message with a spiritual foresight.
Christ particularly passes on this message to us in this parable of a rich steward who plans to fire his corrupt steward. Finding this out, the steward tells all those who owe his master some money to forget about the interest. By doing this the dishonest servant acted with worldly foresight and shrewdly bought friends for himself in the future, knowing that soon he would be unemployed. Again he was not punished by doing this. Perhaps he made his master also look good by writing off the debts of all the borrowers.
Towards the end of the parable, Jesus reiterate, “You cannot serve both God and mammon,” referring still to dishonest and inordinate wealth, wrong profits-making, ill-treatment of the poor, worldly foresight and behavior of the shrewd steward for buying off future friends with money.
This type of behavior is not limited to the time of Christ. In the mid Eight century BC, during the time of Amos, when Jeroboam the II was the king of Samaria, and Amazia served as his priest, injustices, ill treatment of the poor was also prevalent. There was greediness everywhere. And the widow’s head and the poor were trampled into the dust and some were sold out with a pair of sandals or for just a little silver, as the shrewd steward of the gospel parable(Amos 8:4-7).
In the US Senate and Congress now, and I believe in many other parts of the world as well, there is a constant debate on how to bridge the yawing gap between the rich and the poor. How do we help those on food- stamps? What do we do with our brothers and sisters without job, employment and health insurance? Is it necessary for some to keep 10 or more homes or cars when others have none, especially homes or those material goods gotten in a wrong and dishonest manner? Pope Francis recently has also demonstrated in words and action the need to reach out to the poor—the essentials of the message of Christ.
In the face of the disparity between the rich and the poor today what would Jesus have done? He would reach out to them because in the beginning of his ministry in Galilee, in the same very Luke’s gospel, Jesus proclaims “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaimed a year acceptable to the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).
From then on Jesus reached out to the sick, the leper, the blind, the poor, the widow, the needy, the rejected, men, women and children. Jesus wants everyone to eat. He wants every to be clothed. He wants everyone to be healthy. He wants everyone to have a roof over their heads. As Saint Paul would put it in the Second Reading, He wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim 2:1-8).
Money especially wrong use of money is not everything. There is a story of a very hungry and starving rich sick man who received a huge parcel in the mail, which he presumed was food. He greedily tore open the box and proclaimed, “Oh my God, it is not food, but gold.”
We need Christ-like values and spiritual insight in our preaching, in our daily living, in our government decisions, in our relationship with God and with our neighbors, that material things, particularly money is not everything- selfishly used, but was meant for the common good, for the service of God and our neighbors- especially of the poor!