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September 15, 2010
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Sept. 19: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Overview: Amos lived in the northern kingdom of Israel in the middle of the eighth century B.C. during a time of relative peace and prosperity. Many saw their affluence as a sign of God’s favor, but Amos saw things differently. As a shepherd, he saw things through the eyes of the poor; as a prophet he understood things from God’s perspective. Amos railed against the rich who used religion as a cover while they trampled on the poor and needy. Rather than living their faith worthily all week long, they couldn’t wait for the Sabbath to be over so they could cheat their customers by making “the ephah small and the shekel great.”
Timothy 1 and 2 along with Titus are commonly called the “Pastoral Epistles” because they deal with practical, pastoral concerns in the early Church. Paul reminds Timothy to pray for kings and those in authority. The Church has always recognized the legitimate role of the state in maintaining peace and justice. Economic stability and public safety are foundational to a tranquil society where individuals can devote themselves to the higher things of God who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Shrewd investors plan wisely for the future. The point about the parable of the dishonest steward in this week’s Gospel is not that we should be dishonest, but that we should be just as intelligent in preparing for eternity as ‘the sons of this world’ are in maximizing profits and ensuring their financial future. The climax of the reading comes at the end when Jesus says “no servant can serve two masters.”
Key verse: “You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Lk 16:13).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “Any system in which social relationships are determined entirely by economic factors is contrary to the nature of the human person and his acts. A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order” (Nos. 2423-2324).
Pope Benedict XVI: “Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones. But it is man’s darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility” (“Spes Salve,” 36).
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. For information on subscribing to "Breaking Open the Word, click here. For archives click here.