31st Week of the Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Phil 4:10-19
Brothers and sisters: I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me. You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity. Not that I say this because of need, for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the Gospel, when I left Macedonia, not a single church shared with me in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was at Thessalonica you sent me something for my needs, not only once but more than once. It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account. I have received full payment and I abound. I am very well supplied because of what I received from you through Epaphroditus, “a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Lk 16:9-15
Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him. And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”
FOCUSED ON THE GOOD: Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a visible spokesperson and leader, in the Civil Rights Movement until his assassination in 1968. He encourages perseverance in doing good saying, “If you can’t fly, run, if you can’t run, walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” Today, people seek for ways to become rich quickly. They resort to dishonest ways. Such people eventually lose their personal integrity as well as their friends. Instead, Jesus invites us to remain trustworthy in doing small matters on a daily basis. The daily faithfulness in pursing good thoughts, good words and good actions can lead one closer to God and to the people. What positive initiative do we want to initiate today? We shall pray for the grace of resoluteness in being and doing well.
Prayer: Lord, help us focus ahead on the path of life and your goodness.
GENEROSITY VS GREED: We are called to be honest and sincere even in small matters and gifts that we have. Mother Theresa once said, ” Rich both material and spiritual, can choke you if you do not use them fairly. For not even God can put anything in a heart that is already full.” How do we use our richness? Are we generous? We are called to give our hands in serving and our heart in loving, thus to be disciplined and generous in order to expand our souls and this is only possible through Christ our master. Greed destroys and contracts our relationship with God and man. Unlike the Pharisees who were lovers of mammon, our heart’s most treasure should be of controlling our appetite and desires and only love God above other things.
***** JUSTIFICATION IN THE SIGHT OF GOD: One of the themes that the people of Israel struggled with is how to be righteous. Closely related to this question was the idea of justification – what does it mean to be just? The Pharisees had a clear but simplistic idea of righteousness. For them, it simply consisted in obeying all the rules of the Jewish nation. The positive aspect of this criterion was that it was clear, straightforward and measurable. Nevertheless, the naivety about it was that it identifies righteousness as an outcome of one’s own effort. Jesus (later Paul) changes this perspective: “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” Jesus constantly invites us to measure our righteousness in terms of our relationship with God. It is important to be justified by God.