Opening the Word: Who do you serve?

By:

We like harmony. We like happy endings with crystal clear plots. This happens, then this, and finally that.

Over the last several weeks, the Lectionary has not given us this harmony. We have been faced with the strangeness of dispossession, of losing everything to follow Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures continue with this troubling dissonance. In Amos, we hear about Israel’s original sin, its forgetfulness to share everything with the needy. Jesus proclaims a worrying parable of a dishonest steward, resulting in the exhortation that we cannot serve God and money.

And Paul asks us to pray for kings and those in authority, longing for peace.

How is this possible? Should not Paul, based on Amos and the Gospel, be leading a revolution? “Act now,” Paul should say. Forget about peace, the time for revolution is here.

Let us attend more closely to the quizzical Gospel, so that we can understand Paul’s perplexing exhortation.

A shallow reading of the parable of the dishonest steward would suggest the following: Jesus is open to fraud if it keeps one in a position of power.

Closer examination suggests a less sensational reading. When faced with his possible destruction, the dishonest steward is willing to do anything to survive. In dealing with worldly matters, he has wisdom.

If this is true for the children of the world, what about the children of the light? The children of the light should know exactly how to deal with wealth. Yet they hang onto it. They grasp for it, refusing to dispossess themselves of power and wealth.

But like the dishonest steward, they’re in a dramatic situation. If they don’t give it all away, then they risk damnation. You can’t serve God and mammon, the God of Israel and the God of wealth. So, choose the right one. Who, in the end, do you serve?

Paul knows the answer to this question. For him, it’s obvious. We serve Christ and Christ alone. We lift our hands in peaceful prayer for our leaders, not because we adore them as idols. They are creatures just like us. They are not mediators to God, emperors with divine power.

All power is from Jesus Christ alone. Having given ourselves over to his Lordship, we may pray for them. They’re just like us.

The emperor and the governor have been revealed for who they are. Not God, not all-powerful. Instead, they are keepers of peace and order.

What are we to make of Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders in the United States today? Our leaders — on both sides of the aisle — defraud the poor, take away the life of the innocent, and turn the resident alien into a criminal monster.

In the halls of power, prestige and mammon are the currency of the day.

As Catholics, there is another way. We adore Jesus Christ, the sole mediator between God and humanity. It is Jesus, the one who became weak for the weak, who emptied himself out of love to save men and women.

In our local parishes, we may become living signs of a politics infused with the charity of Jesus Christ. After all, we’re stewards of a divine household, a place where every man and woman can discover the startling grace that divine love alone is the credit of the kingdom.

This politics of love unto the end will place us out of harmony with the present polis, including the parties that run this country.

And that’s good news.

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Sept. 22
AM 8:4-7
PS 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
1 TM 2:1-8
LK 16:1-13

This article comes to you from OSV Newsweekly (Our Sunday Visitor) courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: Who do you serve?

Thursday, September 19, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley We like harmony. We like happy endings with crystal clear plots. This happens, then this, and finally that. Over the last... Read More

Could a proper implementation of synodality help save the Church?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
By: Adam A.J. DeVille Recently, doctors have puzzled over cases of certain Catholics breaking out in hives whenever the words “synod”... Read More

Why is Catholicism vibrant in Africa but not in the U.S.?

Sunday, September 15, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion I feel safe in making this statement. Not many American Catholics will be utterly fascinated by Pope Francis’... Read More

Opening the Word: We’re called to seek with the urgency of God

Thursday, September 12, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley Imagine that you’re on a trip abroad. You arrive at the airport and reach into your bag for your passport, knowing... Read More

Who was Venerable Henriette Delille?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019
By: Brian Fraga The last line in Venerable Henriette Delille’s obituary from 1862 sums up her vocation. Henriette Delille, the obituary... Read More

Why I have hope for young priests

Sunday, September 8, 2019
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion A Catholic asked me if seminaries currently vet candidates for the priesthood so that clergy sex abuse will not be a... Read More

Opening the Word: The cost of dispossession

Thursday, September 5, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley In the canon of the New Testament, Philemon is strange. It is short, written directly to a prominent Christian whose name... Read More

Symposium calls for renewal of Catholic family life

Tuesday, September 3, 2019
By: Dr. Greg Popcak This past July, more than 40 internationally recognized social scientists, theologians and pastoral ministry professionals... Read More

When is silence not golden?

Sunday, September 1, 2019
By: Teresa Tomeo We all can use more silence in our lives. We live in a culture bombarded by all kinds of noise and distractions. I should know. My... Read More

Opening the Word: Come to the misfit banquet

Thursday, August 29, 2019
By: Timothy P. O'Malley If you’re going to a party, with the right people, then you want to make sure that you fit in. You want to be able to... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!