FIRST READING Amos 8:4-7
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!” The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!
SECOND READING 1 Timothy 2:1-8
Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle–I am speaking the truth, I am not lying–, teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
GOSPEL Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said,’ And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, One hundred kors of wheat. The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 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 both God and mammon.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
The First Letter to Timothy, from which comes our second reading today, tells us that God wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
The first reading comes from the Prophet Amos who reminds us that we are not all seeking God. Instead some of us seek only what will profit us and that which harms others even as it bring us goods and power.
So today we are invited once more to choose the path on which we walk. We need not fear nor do we need to choose from fear. Rather we should be choosing from love. God wants us all to be saved and to know the truth. We must believe this. So our choice should be a choice of wisdom. We need to reflect on what we see in our world.
Are those who cheat and those who have harmed others really happy? We need to think about that. Are those who are very wealthy and who do not use their wealth to help others really happy? The prophets of our Jewish ancestors want us to grow in wisdom and to seek the Lord with our whole heart.
Is there truly a life after this one? Is there truly what we Christians call “eternal life,” in which we shall live forever, personally, with the Lord? If there is, we have all the reason in the world to try to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the teachings of Scripture. If there is not, then all that matters is to get ahead in this life while we live and to have as much as we can of the pleasures of this life—because there is nothing else. Far too often we Christians say we believe but act as thought we do not believe.
We can reflect on the Gospel from Luke which is given to us today. We are told: 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.
We don’t have to think that this is just about serving the interest of money. No! Rather it is about serving the values of this world which invite us to abandon all belief and accept all secular values and seek pleasure and wealth and power.
We come back to the basic choice: is this life all there is? If so, we may as well accept all of the secular values. If not, then we must begin to walk with Christ, no matter how often we may fail! The following of Christ is not about being perfect in all of our actions! It is about following the Lord in the same way that Peter did, the same way the Good Thief did, the same way so many sinners did!
Let us be wise stewards today and weigh our choices! Let us walk in the way of the Lord.
Your brother in the Lord,