From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
September 18 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings this week deliver a message that is hard to understand – or maybe it’s just a message we don’t want to hear! We are reminded in the first reading and the Psalm of God’s preferential option for the poor. Truth be told, we all enjoy the good things in life; particularly when we have worked hard for them. After all, success has its rewards! The prophet Amos cautions us to be careful that the benefits and privileges we enjoy are not at the expense of the poor and powerless. Amos tells us that God’s memory is especially sharp in particular instances – such as when the poor are mistreated, or ignored. “I will never forget a thing they have done!” God tells us about those who abuse the poor.
In the gospel, we hear the confusing story of the wise steward. Jesus seems to be commending the steward for his shrewd dealings. Look deeper though, and we understand he is simply recognizing that the steward clearly had intelligence and financial skills when pressed to use them. The problem – he did not use his skills for the benefit of the master, but rather for his own selfish needs. He is not trustworthy in small matters or large.
There are three lessons for us to take from these readings. First, each of us is given great gifts and talents to use. What we do with those gifts is important. This is a part of the virtue of humility. We need to recognize and accept the gifts that God graces each of us with AND use them for his benefit and glory. When we seek to do His will in all things, we come to understand that they are not our gifts, but rather His, given to us to build up the Kingdom. Second, when we focus on what is important to God, we inherently help and lift the poor and the vulnerable. Do we truly understand what is important to God? The care of one another, particularly the poor. Honesty in our dealings with others. Humility and selflessness. In all of these things, he calls us into a relationship with him and with one another. He calls us into his mission. Jesus became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich.” If we are disciples of Jesus we too must continue, in our day and our world, God’s saving mission. We, who are made in God’s image and likeness, must have a special empathy, care, and desire to help God’s favored, the least. Third, details matter! Our motivation behind our actions matters! What is in our hearts matters! God gives us gifts and resources. Do we use them or waste them? Not just our financial gifts, but our gifts of health, of persuasion, of organization, of listening, of empathy, of time, of prayer – and so many more! Do we control them, or do they control us? Does our love for God show through our actions and efforts? Do we seek short-term pleasure – or long-term joy? We must use our gifts and our intelligence not for selfish gains, but for the one thing that really matters – our eternal salvation. We must choose where and whom we will serve. “We cannot serve both God and mammon.”
As Vincentians, we are called to unite ourselves with the less fortunate, using our gifts, our intelligence, and our love of God to help them find peace and hope in their lives. We offer ourselves in sacrifice as Christ sacrificed for us. Through prayer and meditation, we seek to know God’s will for both ourselves and those he brings before us. We should take care to place ourselves fully at the service of the poor and vulnerable so that they may help us to overcome Satan’s temptation to a poverty of spirit driven by an abundance of wealth. How do I make myself fully present to those in need? How do I allow God’s will to effectively shape my purpose in life?
Lord Jesus, give me the grace to gladly accept all that you ask me to do. Grant that I might grow in humility to embrace all that you ask of me in care for others. Help me to become part of a network of friends living gospel values for your glory! Together, let us open our hearts of mercy and compassion to those whom you bring before us. We pray all of this in your name. Amen.