This is the first of several of Fr. Jim’s homilies that I will be posting today. I have to apologize to all you readers who I have let done because I have not been posting. As you know I had my left knee joint replaced in July, went through a good recovery and have been undergoing several weeks of physical therapy. The knee is doing fine but I have had some setbacks mainly in my sleep pattern. I have undergone severe insomnia that has left me drained most of the time and then a sinus infection that put me low for two weeks or so, one of which I experienced severe dizziness. The sinus stuff is a bit on-going but, hopefully, I am getting the sleep issues under some control even if I don’t go to sleep until about 3 a.m.!! At least I am now getting about 5 to 6 hours of good sleep instead of 1 or 2 as I was experiencing. I decided to post all of the “delinquent” homilies as I know many of you treasure getting his thoughts on the Sunday readings, even if they are no longer timely. Thanks for your patience with me. I think things are looking up…..reyanna
•Amos 8: 4-7 + 1 Timothy 2: 1-8 + Luke 16: 1-13•
Weekly Scripture Readings:25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I presume you may consider the gospel text of today somewhat confusing and perhaps difficult to understand. So let us see what we can do about that.
This “steward” or “estate manager” in the parable was skilled in the art of crooked business dealings. He is narcissistic, lies and cheats –“a con man,” and apparently was caught by his boss.
We can presume it did not matter to him that he put the owner of the estate in a predicament. Once caught with his hand in the till, his primary concern like that of some politicians was himself.
Commentaries on this parable offer different insights. Some suggest Jesus simply enjoyed spinning a yarn with extravagant details — 900 gallons of oil — a thousand bushels of wheat! Other commentators suggest that Jesus simply had heard of “con artists” who took advantage of others by filing the equivalent of what we today call “bankruptcy at the expense of others.” Perhaps you know of people accused of doing that.
Telling this tale does not mean Luke’s Jesus approves of the “the steward’s” behavior. He is not urging us to be crooked schemers or con men. The point he makes is this. “No servant can serve two masters.”
The task now for all of us is to apply this parable to our own behavior patterns. As I read and reflected on the tale, it became more and more obvious to me that the key figure — “the steward” – like most narcissistic people lacked respect for his own personal integrity.
So I suggest that among other reasons, Luke’s Jesus directed this parable to his listeners, all of us, challenging us to be people of personal integrity. I will try to explain what I mean and in doing so leave it to you to apply my ideas to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and other politicians.
I claim, as you do, to be a Christian. This parable challenges us to be what we claim to be!
Personal integrity means faithfully and consistently embracing the core values Jesus lived and taught. Examples to illustrate what that means are many, but time restrains me to offer only several. Personal integrity for all who claim to be Christian means being honest in all our dealings. It means always speaking the truth clearly. It means being trustworthy and reliable in all things. It means caring for others and being generous and sharing with them. It means being fully alive – and – fully human!!
“No servant can serve two masters.” Perhaps this gospel motivated the Trappist monk Thomas Merton to write, “a life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.” It really is that simple. “A life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.”
I referred earlier to both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. You know as well as I do it is very important to measure these and other political candidates and all public servants, secular or religious, by the personal integrity of their lives. As you prepare for the November elections, I encourage you to do that!
However remember this. When we gather and try to break open the scripture texts for one another, these texts are addressed primarily to us. Gathering here or in any other community of faith is authentic only if I put all my energy and talents into assuring that my own life is fully committed to and in harmony with “the reign of God.” Surely Jesus had “God’s new reality” in mind when he warned his listeners: “No servant can serve two masters.”
My “life is either spiritual or not spiritual at all.” I encourage you to continue your efforts to seek and embrace the core values of the gospel. In doing so you make it possible for “the reign of God,” — “God’s new reality” to emerge among us in our world today..