The Gospel: Jesus said to his disciples:
“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 both God and mammon.”
God sees all that is going on about earth. He is determining by our actions of whom “He can trust with true wealth” — that is, with heavenly treasure, with His Kingdom. For instance, in the all important Life Issues category, are we trustworthy enough in respecting others, of the people whom God has made? Are we trusted advocates for Life, as in being pro life?
In this parable, Jesus says that we should respect what belongs to another. Humanity belongs to a very special “Another”– it is Jesus Himself and all of the Holy Trinity! The Church defends life from conception to natural death simply because those people and souls belong to God. Are you fully aboard with that?
What also belongs to others is their own personal human dignity, a principle which is held high in Catholic social teachings. We see our neighbors as images of God. So, as in hearing this gospel today, we conclude that we can either serve God by respecting life and in serving Him in giving human dignity to our fellow man, OR we can be seen by God as an untrustworthy person, in one who is de-valuing life, God’s created work.
These matters matter! Our choices will show the answer of whom or what we serve. Make the choice to fully be a pro-life Catholic. Those calling their option to take away life as ‘pro choice’ are choosers for death for some people, usually the most vulnerable or helpless. Yet pro lifers alone have a choice that respects all and their right to live. It’s the honest to God choice.
The teaching of Jesus here in Luke’s Gospel reveals a truth about service, in matters upon the earth, that it indeed has eternal ramifications. One ought not to deceive their self any different: God keeps watch over all things. He’s watching who is honest.
Here in Luke chapter 16 we have Jesus explaining His use and meaning of a parable, about a slick lender who is in a difficult, business spot. It’s a lesson explaining that God does see and know about the person who is dishonest in this world and who does think they are getting away with it. They won’t, but maybe their effort to turn it all around with a decided effort will be the difference of how God sees that person in the end.
In the parable, Jesus explains how God sees how people go and do things dishonestly, and He knows why we do it, as often it is because of people’s divided hearts or divided loyalties. It’s the point of the dishonest steward in His parable. Jesus simplifies and summarizes the lesson, saying: “You just cannot fully serve both God and the god of mammon.” Really, one cannot fully be serving anything ungodly and say that they are also serving God well. It doesn’t work so.
Relate this to Life issues today. One cannot serve both the God of life and the false gods of death and god of self. This is a basic of the pro-life movement. We are servants to God with all respects to human caring, from people conceived in the womb and forward on.
Yet, we know, we have people saying they are a Catholic or another type of Christian believer, but who live in a huge compromise here in the Respect Life department, and who thus fall short in their honor due to our God of Life. One who is in that situation should be uncomfortable in that spot. Like the slick lender who knew he was caught in his deceit and dishonesty, there are some people God is calling to truly be pro-life and to show pro-human dignity–with no dodging and excuses and evasion anymore. Come clean to God!
As the nation goes forward, will we stand to honor Him and His own workmanship called humankind, or give in to secular humanism and materialism and the like? You have a decision to make, if you are on the fence.
I have a point with the Black Lives Matter movement: Include the African-American babies as black lives that matter. They are being aborted by the thousands and few raise their voice about that, even in most recognized black churches in the nation. Why so? It’s dishonest. Be pro-life because it is a Lives Matter movement and lived to glorify God as being His servants for life.
Our newest Saint, Teresa of Calcutta, made it a huge point in her USA visits, in publicly saying that, if we all here didn’t get honest about the abortion business and its related issues disrespecting human life, and see it for the great tragedy it is, then we would always be in a hole and in a shaded or bad place until we do. She called the believers in this nation to repent, and for the Church, acting in Christ’ Name, to restore society to peace. She remains right, but she her prophetic call for us to be pro life is not heeded enough. It is a bit like Amos’ story, whom we will discuss in a minute. Don’t we wonder of how can we say “God Bless America,” and expect an answer, if we in this nation are still taking so many children’s lives away, God’s little ones, by abortion and its procedures? Man!
As Luke 16 shows, people insist on a dualism (i.e. taking both sides or no sides) that Jesus said cannot be done. People want to claim how they still are a ‘good person,’ as in ‘ok in God’s sight,’ YET all the while having something sinful or dark that they are siding with–like supporting abortion and issues versus the respect for every human life. God asks that we instead get on HIS side fully and put away the ungodly attraction/ distraction. Whom shall we serve? Children belong to Him. If we are not trustworthy stewards with that–Jesus asks, then “How can we be trusted with more, which belongs to God?”
OUCH, you should say. Luke 16 IS an OUCH section of Scripture.
In Luke 16:14-15, the Pharisees and others said Ouch. The verse goes: “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things from Jesus, and they derided Him. And He said to them: You are ones who ‘justify’ yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men may be an abomination in the sight of God.”
If you justify your dishonest actions, when God says He knows the truth–then why not just change your actions? This is what the dishonest steward in the parable does, winning some points back with his boss and others, even while losing his job. He can start anew in honesty, if he would exercise the courage.
Take our story of Amos, too, from our opening reading today. Amos was a real good man of faith. He lived on the border of the two split-parts of the Holy Land, Judah and Israel. God raised up this holy man of an ordinary occupation (he was a caretaker of trees); He made of him a mighty prophet. The Lord sent Amos to speak to the northerner Jewish peoples of Israel, who were (in Amos’ time) living far off from their holy origins. The people and king there thought themselves still as good folks under God, but God didn’t see them that way.
God called this just man Amos and sent him to say such stinging words, as: Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the Sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” Thus says the Lord!
Amos tells these folks, in the prophetic word of the Lord, that “good” people would not be known for trampling over desperate folks, or harming the poor of the land. Thus, they are not ‘good’ in God’s sight! They need a big change! Thus sayeth the Lord, through Amos.
The Israelites didn’t like that assessment, and they wanted Amos to go away. He wouldn’t. ‘God sent me to save you,’ he said. ‘Oh, there are times when it seems you will be lawful. You behave on the Sabbath or before new moon festivals, as on official holy days, but then right after that, all manner of sin then breaks forth from you, with all sorts of lying and cheating and deceit, even the kind that is done to mislead or fool people and to take from them or to control them. God says that there isn’t weekdays off from obeying God! If Israel will be so disobedient, as they clearly were doing, then they had God’s ultimate judgment to face.
Amos really is proposing the question: So, knowing this, what do you all think you should so do? (How about repent and reform?) Cut to the end of story. We know they didn’t, and the Assyrians ran roughshod over them. The Northern Kingdom—Israel–fell.
We can borrow lessons from the story to our modern situation. God spoke prophetically in Amos about how His true followers should not remain comfortable and feeling aok in living with a divided heart or mind. God says through His prophet: ‘Either truly be holy and good, or not. You cannot serve in two directions.’ It is a call to repentance and amendment of life. And here you see the connection with Amos’ message and the one of Jesus in Luke 16. “You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
In this Year of Mercy, a moment in the Sacrament of Reconciliation may be awaiting you about matter of life and being honest about it, or some other fundamental choice of serving God and/or another person who deserves respect from you.
In the good moral choices we Catholics are offered to make, as in an election vote, or one at work, or in social circles– are we siding with pro-life choices or in compromised, dulled conscience choices? Are we serving God with our lives and respecting human dignity, or going along with a disrespectful, me-first culture that prefers mammon. What is mammon? Mammon is another word for wealth that is used in the New Testament; a transliteration of the Aramaic ‘mamona’ which means wealth or self-profit and gain by unrighteousness.
I preach often against what is the practice of secular humanism, and the materialistic wealth that is even favored now over respecting human dignity and other’s lives in America. I preach against the way of ‘mamona.’ Why? Because Jesus says things like in Luke 16:9, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” That eternal dwelling He’s talking of isn’t “up.” Modern day rebels versus God, like the covetous Pharisees, do think they are ‘scott-free’ of Him, but instead stand guilty before the Word of God in Jesus, the Eternal and Incarnate Word. But as today’s parable shows, God mercifully gives us time to choose whom or what we will serve.
God has sent us Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II and others to prophetically say to us in the USA: ‘Abortion is murder. Murder is a break of the Fifth Commandment, a capital offense to the Almighty. God authors life and then we go and take it away. Is that the way of friend of God acts?’
Right now there are large forces working to lead this nation down a darker path on the Life Issue. They advocate Death. God speaks to us clearly on what should be our stand: “Am I not the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (i.e. The Life that goes on)? So, God is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus, Matthew 22:32.
Believer–Be with life and the God of life. God tells us through the prophet Amos today: “Don’t trample over the weak and do injustice to the poor.” Abortion promoters do this. Who “will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals” is his question today to the sinful, far-off-the-mark people of secular humanism who do this today. We will not be those people, Christians, oh no!! We stand with the great I AM.