First reading: Am. 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 Tm. 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: Lk. 16:10–13
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.”
In other words
Fr. Magdaleno Fabiosa, SVD (Holy Name University, Tagbilaran City, Bohol)
Like all human beings, we get so tied up with the material world that we forget that there is a beyond, a world Jesus called his kingdom which started with his resurrection. It is a kingdom that does not wait for us in the future but a kingdom that starts already here and now. It is a kingdom that does not begin when we die, but it is a kingdom whose features we can already experience here and now. Since it can be experienced now, it can fire up and motivate a person to work for the realization of this kingdom.
Like a real mother who has an experience in life, the Church reminds us now and then, and encourages us to pay attention to this reality so essential to the discovery of wholeness as human beings. She does this in the Word of God that is read to during Sunday’s throughout the year. In today’s readings, for example, Jesus asks us to be as resourceful and sly as the dishonest steward-manager who knew what to do to ascertain a good future after being removed from his job. Jesus does not ask us to be dishonest but to be as resourceful in preparing and providing for a secure future.
That future starts already now. In every today, tomorrow already walks. The prophet Amos in the first reading protested against the greed, the dishonesty that abounded among his own people. The rich exploited the poor, and justice became a mocker that was torn to shreds. Thus, he warned his own people: unless something drastic was done, the were doomed to destruction as a nation. The one way we can predict our future is to exercise our power in the present in order to shape that future. But how is this done?
Jesus makes two clear statements regarding how to shape the future. One is the use of money. The scriptures do not condemn money and riches in themselves. Jesus had among his inner circle some rich men and women. Remember the parable of Dives and Lazarus. The rich man was condemned to damnation not because he was rich but because while wallowing in his riches, he was only concerned with himself. He never noticed the poor and the needy on his doorstep. Money that is amassed is always due to others; thus when a rich person is asked to share his riches, it is not a matter of charity, it is a matter of justice.
Another statement that Jesus makes on how to shape our future is: the man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great things. A life of corruption does not happen all at once. It starts little in the life of a person until it becomes a way of life. I remember attending a seminar on corruption. One of the students who attended the seminar shared her discovery and realization. She said, “I just realized now that I was starting a life of corruption when I told my mother that I needed 500 pesos for my school project when in fact I needed only 200. I used the 300 to go malling.” That is how it starts. It starts with little.
The kingdom of God is God’s dream of humanity. It is represented by the image of all men and women living as brothers and sisters under God as their one common Father. This is not a utopia. It can be experienced as a reality by anyone who cares to put the gospel into practice. As the gospel tells us, it starts little like a mustard seed, like yeast put into a whole mass of dough. Is not an act of sharing one’s time with others something very insignificant? Even a smile at somebody is no big deal. Sitting down with somebody who is in pain due to the death of a loved one is also no big deal. But little, insignificant acts like these break barriers and create lasting relationships. They create a familial relationship with strangers to the extent that it convinces us that, yes, God’s dream of humanity as one family is no dream at all—it is a possibility. All it takes is for us to be faithful and to live the little demands of the gospels, and we leave to God to do the miracle he wants to create through us his little insignificant instruments.