Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 19, Luke 16:1-13
Not too long ago I went into a restaurant to get a little lunch. The bill came to $9.50. I gave the waitress a $20.00 bill when it came time to pay the bill. She returned with the proper change of $10.50. But instead of giving me a ten dollar bill plus the fifty cents, she gave me a five dollar bill and five ones plus the change. Now that was a clever waitress! She knew I most probably would not give her a ten dollar bill for a tip, so she broke it down hoping to receive at least a couple of the one dollar bills. Pretty smart. A clever girl.
This is pretty much what is going on in our Gospel for today. The manager was a clever guy. He was mentally quick and resourceful. And there is nothing really wrong going on in the Gospel with this cleverness. The manager is not trying to hide anything from his boss; in fact, he maybe wants the boss to discover just how clever he is and maybe, because of the cleverness, he will keep him and not fire him.
The final sentence of the Gospel gives us a hint of the point here: We cannot serve both God and mammon. The word “mammon” here is a Greek word and means more than just wealth and riches. It means anything at all in this whole world that we rely on to obtain our desires and wishes such as titles, our position in life, and so on. My Commentary concludes that mammon is anything which takes our attention away from God.
All of us try and be clever from time to time. I used to be pretty good at this. I remember in my drinking days how I carried my roman collar with me so if I got caught driving after drinking, the police would see that and be more lenient. It worked in those days, but thank heavens it doesn’t work anymore. Clever, but not really.
Our cleverness can be wrong when it covers up a defect and enables my following it, as in the example just given above. Sometimes our cleverness is used in our rationalizations, our manipulations of others, our alibis and the so-called mental reservations which are little more than lies. This is what the manager in the Gospel was doing. The facts of the matter were that he was mishandling and squandering his master’s property, and in so doing showed himself to be incompetent. He was clever, but not enough to keep him from being fired.
So, the point of today’s Gospel is: All of us from time to time go to great lengths to insure our security in this world. We should learn to give as much of our efforts to the things of the world to come, to our eternal life in the kingdom.
Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 20, St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his Korean Martyr Companions
Today the Church honors the Korean Martyrs of the 17th century. The evangelization of Korea began in the 17th century due to the efforts of a group of laypeople. Eventually, in the same century, a group of missionaries arrived on the scene, members of the Parish Foreign Mission Society. Religious persecutions broke out in Korea in the 19th century in 1839, 1866 and 1867. During these times a total of 103 members of the Christian community were martyred for the faith. Among this number were the first Korean priest, Fr. Andrew Kim Taegon, and a strong lay apostle, Paul Chong Hasang. The other martyrs included a few bishops and priests, but for the most part they were lay Christians including women, children and the elderly. Pope John Paul II, during a trip to Korea, canonized all of them together on May 6, 1984.
Holy Martyrs of Korea, pray for us.
Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 21, Feast of St. Matthew
Today the Church calendar honors St. Matthew, one of the 12 Apostles. The tradition of the Church also includes him among the four evangelists and affirms him to be the author of the first Gospel in the canon of the New Testament. The Gospel tell us that he was the son of Alpheus and was called to be an apostle by Jesus himself while he was sitting at his tax collectors’ place in Capernaum. He is also identified as “Levi” in the Gospels of Mark and Luke.
Nothing is known about Matthew and his work after the Ascension of the Lord. One tradition has him going to Ethiopia. We do not know if he died a martyr’s death or not. Another tradition has him preaching the Gospel in Persia.
Matthew’s Gospel was written for the people of Palestine to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah who was to come into the world. This Gospel was written in Aramaic probably around the year 42 A.D. Another tradition places the composition between the years 42 and 50. It was definitely written before the year 70 and the destruction of the Temple by the Romans.
St. Matthew, pray for us.
Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 22, Luke 9: 1-6
“Take nothing for the journey.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus summons the Twelve and gives them power over demons and diseases. He then sent them out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And he then told them not to take anything with them for the journey. This is a Gospel of faith and trust in God. Jesus is telling them not to count on their own resources in doing his work, but to let Jesus himself take care of things. Let’s not try to help people who come to us for help by ourselves. Rather, let’s lead them to Jesus and let him help them.
Earlier this morning, a very troubled person came to our door and asked to see a priest. I guess I was the only one around at the time, so I went to see what the person wanted. The person requested the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The person was very upset and weeping and told me that they needed to confess a sin they had committed a long time ago and one that God would not possibly forgive them. The person doubted the forgiving power of Jesus. I assured them they were talking to the right guy, for I had done that same thing at one time in my life. They confessed and were given absolution and left with a smile on their face.
Now, am I stupid enough to think that I helped that person and gave them hope and joy? Man, I hope not. Jesus put the words in my mouth that helped that person. Take nothing with you for the journey — only Jesus. Once again, I think of those wise words of Jesus: Without me, you can do nothing. Let’s not even try!
Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 23, St. Padre Pio
The man we now call Padre Pio was born Francesco to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. He was a very devout child and later felt drawn to the priesthood. At the age of 14, he became a Capuchin Franciscan novice and in 1910 he was ordained a priest.
On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling and praying in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion of Jesus and thus became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. Doctors could not find any natural causes for these wounds and when he died in 1968, the wounds in his hands, feet and side were no longer visible. He had predicted 50 years prior to his death that at his death the wounds would heal.
Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968, at the age of 81. There were about 100,000 people at his funeral. On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 people gathered in Rome for the canonization of Padre Pio by Pope John Paul II.
St. Padre Pio, pray for us.
Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 24, Luke 9: 18-22
We remarked several days ago that whenever Jesus went off alone to pray, something big was about to happen. And so it is in today’s Gospel reading. Jesus is praying alone and the disciples come to him and Jesus asked them a question: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They replied with names they had heard given to him: John the Baptist, Elijah and others. Then Jesus asked them who they thought he was and it was Peter who responded: “The Christ of God.” Then Jesus went on to tell them how the redemption of the human race would take place: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Indeed, something important was about to happen and Jesus has gone off alone to pray. What are some of the many important things that happen in our daily lives? Do we take the time, even a brief moment, to whisper a prayer for help before we begin these important tasks such as cooking meals, making beds, cleaning floors, doing the laundry, going off to work or school, conversing, eating?
Lord, teach me to pray!
Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time
Sept. 25, Luke 9: 43-45
Following yesterday’s important Gospel moment, Jesus said to his disciples: “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
In yesterday’s Gospel, Peter proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ of God. Jesus was the Messiah whom all were awaiting. Jesus was God! What is this then about his being handed over to the power of mere men? Men over God! Incredible, ridiculous. Maybe it is such to the Apostles or to us — but not to God. God loved us so much that he gave his only Son to die on the cross for our sins. This is the way God chose to redeem us. He became like us in all things but sin — because he loved us so much.
How in the world can we ever doubt God’s love for his creatures? Does this serve to help me love him more?