September 18, 2016 — Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Word of God as given to us through Holy Scripture at every Mass and Liturgy is important to us simply because it is God’s word. Our readings are filled with messages for us from God Himself. The Word is more than just information; it is God’s promise, the promise of life. In spite of its age the Bible and God’s Word through it still have meaning for us today.
The First Reading on this Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time comes from the Book of Amos. Although one of the minor prophets, Amos is important not only through what he teaches, but because of all the prophets, history tells us that this Old Testament Book is the first written of all the prophetic books. Amos lived around 750 B.C. (Isaiah, for example, from whom we hear often, lived in the 600’s.)
One of Amos’s ongoing prophesies involves how the wealthy may take advantage of and mistreat the poor. This is the gist of today’s reading and it bears that warning for us as well. What we do and how we treat others, even in minor ways, is important. That is also a recurring theme in the teachings of Jesus, why He reminds us so often to “Love one another.” Amos reminds us that God will judge, and we must reconcile with Him.
In his first letter to Timothy (from which our Second Reading is drawn) St. Paul uses the term “first of all” when calling for prayers, especially prayers of thanksgiving. “First of all” is not a rhetorical phrase intended to point out what Paul is going to speak about initially. It is a communication that prayer is of primary importance. That is surely one of Paul’s most common themes. The term “prayer” should mean more than just making appeals to the Lord. It involves all communication with God, both to and from. Paul cannot express enough how important that should be to Timothy, and to us.
St. Paul also emphasizes to us that prayers should be for all people, including those in authority. And the key to prayers is to appeal for God’s truth and saving grace for all. God wants all to be saved, and the Lord wants all to come to an understanding of truth. Finally we hear in this reading that all things must come from and through Jesus Christ, the Son. Prayer, in a sense, should be never ending for us. Paul concludes, “It is my wish then, that in every place men should pray.”
As much as anywhere in Holy Scripture, Jesus speaks to us about stewardship and what it means in today’s Gospel Reading from St. Luke. It recounts the Lord sharing what many call “The Parable of the Dishonest Steward.” Before everything else we must understand that God is the master, and we are merely stewards of His gifts, what belongs to Him. One of the strongest tenets of stewardship is, of course, that everything comes from God, and everything is God’s. In the introduction to their pastoral letter on stewardship (Stewardship: a Disciple’s Response) the U.S. Bishops state it this way: “Disciples who practice stewardship recognize God as the origin of life, the giver of freedom, the source of all they have and are and will be. They know themselves to be recipients and caretakers of God’s many gifts.”
Just as Jesus explains in the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, we will be judged by our stewardship, how we use and share God’s gifts. In the first reading from Amos, the prophet tells us we will be judged. Jesus says specifically, “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” What is ours is the Lord’s saving grace; our true riches are in heaven. Amos and Paul and especially Jesus make that clear to us.