It is common to see, when passing by a corner store, a sign out front advertising the latest Lottery jackpot. Often the numbers can be a million plus. Imagine winning such a lottery. Suddenly you are a multimillionaire – all your problems solved! Perhaps not. In a resent study it is suggested that 70% of people who come into a sudden large windfall will lose it within a few years
Indeed, and according to today’s gospel having great wealth is hazard to your eternal life. But why? In Luke Jesus says: From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Lk 12:48 In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus uses the example of a delinquent and dishonest servant to illustrate how wealth can corrupt. This Sunday the rich man – perhaps same man who commended his dishonest servant, is the focus. “You cannot serve two masters”.
It all comes down to understanding who we are and why we are here. We did not choose to come into this life, we were created and sent into the world by God. Nor is this world a product of our doing, it too is created. We did not make it and we do not own it. This world and all life in it belongs to God – we are not owners of anything by right. That is why comparing us to servants is a most accurate analogy.
The reason why the rich man in today’s gospel finds himself in big trouble is not that being rich is wrong in itself, but that, “to whom much is given, much more is expected.” He is doing nothing fruitful with what has been entrusted to him. In the account of the rich young man whom Jesus invites to become his follower, the wealth of this young man controls him rather than the other way around. “And Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! (Lk 18:24)
With life comes responsibility and with wealth comes even more responsibility. I was raised by parents who were products of the great depression. For us having was a blessing – wasting was a sin. In those days, parishes were lifelines for their people, parishioners helping each other survive. They understood these gospels teaching we are reading – related to them. Perhaps the improved conditions of resent times is having a negative impact on us today. Who needs God when I am doing quite well thank you.
May we never lose site of who we truly are, God’s servants, and that . . . “ From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”.
Monday, 26 September 2016
Saturday, 17 September 2016
I came across an interesting You Tube video that focused on the distribution of wealth in the United States. It demonstrated just how wide the gap is between the rich and the poor. We all know that the rich are getting richer, but by how much is shocking. In the video it points out that 1% of Americans have 40% of the countries wealth. 8 out 10 people have only 7% of the countries wealth. The average worker would have to work more than a month to earn what the CEO earns in an hour.
But as we listen to the first reading for this Sunday’s liturgy, we realize that inequity in the distribution of wealth is not a new problem.
We will measure out less and charge more, and tamper with the scales, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”
For the prophet it is not only that these people are doing something dishonest, but they are offending God as well. The abundance of the resources of God's creation are not mankind's to own and do with as they like. We are not owners, we are stewards of God's good earth, charged with the responsibility of using it for the good of all.
Over the centuries, various political/economic systems have been used, but none has prevented this inequity of shared wealth from happening. It is interesting to note that in our time, a real sense of stewardship of our world resources has emerged - seen in the growing concern over the environment.
As you may know, last year Pope Francis issued an encyclical -Laudato Si'-on the environment. Perhaps the most important new focus of the encyclical is the relationship between global poverty, catastrophic inequality, and worship of the golden calf of consumerism that leads to environmental destruction.
The Pope does not mince words in his condemnation of worshiping gross national product over human life and health. The poor and marginal are his greatest concern, and they suffer the most from economic and environmental injustice.
In today's gospel, in Jesus' story of the Dishonest Stewart, his commendation for his shrewdness is meant as a judgement against him and all who act likewise.
Today we are reminded of our stewardship, both of creation and one another. The gospel ends by asking us as stewards which master are we serving?
Saturday, 10 September 2016
. . . The Face of Mercy . . .
We are now over two thirds of the way through this Year of Mercy. Once again the gospel for this Sunday presents us with the the beautiful image of "the Face of Mercy" in the parable of the Prodigal Son. [ ... LINK ... ]
Perhaps this is a good time to go back over some of our insights gained through this year.
A link to the start of this web page offerings on the Year of Mercy.
Saturday, 3 September 2016
Who can know God’s counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;
but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.
Anyone who takes up the practice of personal, meditative prayer soon discovers that prayer is all about relationship; it takes two in order for prayer to happen. It is, “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you”…, as the song goes in the King and I. It is about Christ the King and I. But in this striving to know Christ, I learn about myself as I see myself reflected in the eyes of him who knows me perfectly.
Who I am, where I come from, why I am here, where I am going and how I am doing, all of these are learnt through a measure outside of myself; a measure held in the hand of the Designer. The world is full of all manner of measures and standards, some of which I may already apply to myself. In prayer, all of these are set aside; some as misleading, some as outright false, but all of them inadequate if I ever hope to learn who I am in truth.
In this text from the Book of Wisdom, the author recognizes well the challenge these ponderous questions pose. (Even in this age, aided by the tools science provides, we end up with more questions than when we began.) But the author begins to understand that a Teacher is given to help us work our way through the challenges to understand life’s mysteries. “Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy spirit from on high?” This Teacher is the Holy Spirit.
So now, having proclaimed his gospel, and as Jesus prepares his disciples for his departure, he reminds them of the Teacher they will have guiding them. “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:23-26
This is what prayer is – entering the presence of the Father and Jesus, to listen, to learn, to dialogue with them – with the Holy Spirit as the “translator”, helping us understand the heavenly language. It is not with our ears and audible sounds we hear, but with the heart-to-mind.
St. Paul ends chapter thirteen of his first letter to the Corinthians: “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (New Living Translation)
The question then: “Do I pray; pray in the manner of meditative/contemplative prayer?” (These pages are devoted to encouraging and assisting this prayer.) If I have begun, is it time to refresh and renew my efforts?