September 18, 2016: Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Here too, it should always be kept in mind that “environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces”. Once more, we need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals. Is it realistic to hope that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits will stop to reflect on the environmental damage which they will leave behind for future generations? Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention. Moreover, biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor. (190) Laudato Si Pope Francis
First Reading: Amos 8:4-7
Psalm: 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
Second Reading: 1st Timothy 2:1-8
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
Catechism of the Catholic Church
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.
A system that “subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production” is contrary to human dignity. Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. “You cannot serve God and mammon.” (2424)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Twenty-fifty Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
At the beginning of its history, the people of Israel are unlike other peoples in that they have no king, for they recognize the dominion of Yahweh alone. It is God who intervenes on Israel’s behalf through charismatic individuals, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The people approach the last of these individuals, Samuel, prophet and judge, to ask for a king (cf. 1 Sam 8:5; 10:18-19). Samuel warns the Israelites about the consequences of a despotic exercise of kingship (cf. 1 Sam 8:11-18). However, the authority of the king can also be experienced as a gift of Yahweh who comes to the assistance of his people (cf. 1 Sam 9:16). In the end, Saul is anointed king (cf. 1 Sam 10:1-2). These events show the tension that brought Israel to understand kingship in a different way than it was understood by neighbouring peoples. The king, chosen by Yahweh (cf. Dt 17:15; 1 Sam 9:16) and consecrated by him (cf. 1 Sam 16:12-13), is seen as God’s son (cf. Ps 2:7) and is to make God’s dominion and plan of salvation visible (cf. Ps 72). The king, then, is to be the defender of the weak and the guarantor of justice for the people. The denunciations of the prophets focus precisely on the kings’ failure to fulfil these functions (cf. 1 Kg 21; Is 10:1-4; Am 2:6-8, 8:4-8; Mic 3:1-4). (377)
The definitive salvation that God offers to all humanity through his own Son does not come about outside of this world. While wounded by sin, the world is destined to undergo a radical purification (cf. 2 Pet 3:10) that will make it a renewed world (cf. Is 65:17, 66:22;Rev 21:1), finally becoming the place where “righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13).
In his public ministry, Jesus makes use of natural elements. Not only is he a knowledgeable interpreter of nature, speaking of it in images and parables, but he also dominates it (cf. the episode of the calming of the storm in Mt 14:22-33; Mk 6:45-52; Lc 8:22-25; Jn 6:16-21). The Lord puts nature at the service of his plan of redemption. He asks his disciples to look at things, at the seasons and at people with the trust of children who know that they will never be abandoned by a provident Father (cf. Lk 11:11-13). Far from being enslaved by things, the disciple of Jesus must know how to use them in order to bring about sharing and brotherhood (cf. Lk 16:9-13). (453)
To the subjects, whether individuals or communities, that exercise ownership of various types of property accrue a series of objective advantages: better living conditions, security for the future, and a greater number of options from which to choose. On the other hand, property may also bring a series of deceptive promises that are a source of temptation. Those people and societies that go so far as to absolutize the role of property end up experiencing the bitterest type of slavery. In fact, there is no category of possession that can be considered indifferent with regard to the influence that it may have both on individuals and on institutions. Owners who heedlessly idolize their goods (cf. Mt 6:24, 19:21-26; Lk 16:13) become owned and enslaved by them]. Only by recognizing that these goods are dependent on God the Creator and then directing their use to the common good, is it possible to give material goods their proper function as useful tools for the growth of individuals and peoples. (181)
1st Timothy 2:1-2
Submission, not passive but “for the sake of conscience” (Rom 13:5), to legitimate authority responds to the order established by God. Saint Paul defines the relationships and duties that a Christian is to have towards the authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7). He insists on the civic duty to pay taxes: “Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, fear to whom fear is due, respect to who respect is due” (Rom 13:7). The Apostle certainly does not intend to legitimize every authority so much as to help Christians to “take thought for what is noble in the sight of all” (Rom 12:17), including their relations with the authorities, insofar as the authorities are at the service of God for the good of the person (cf. Rom 13:4; 1 Tim 2:1-2; Tit 3:1) and “to execute [God’s] wrath on the wrongdoer” (Rom 13:4).
Saint Peter exhorts Christians to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Pet 2:13). The king and his governors have the duty “to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right” (1 Pet 2:14). This authority of theirs must be “honoured” (1 Pet 2: 17), that is, recognized, because God demands correct behaviour that will “silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Pet 2:15). Freedom must not be used as a pretext for evil but to serve God (cf. 1 Pet 2:16). It concerns free and responsible obedience to an authority that causes justice to be respected, ensuring the common good. (380)
Praying for rulers, which Saint Paul recommended even as he was being persecuted, implicitly indicates what political authority ought to guarantee: a calm and tranquil life led with piety and dignity (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-2). Christians must “be ready for any honest work” (Tit3:1), showing “perfect courtesy towards all” (Tit 3:2), in the awareness that they are saved not by their own deeds but by God’s mercy. Without “the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Tit 3:5-6), all people are “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing [their] days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another” (Tit 3:3). We must not forget the miserable state of the human condition marred by sin, but redeemed by God’s love. (381)
1st Timothy 2:4-5
Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ’s act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”. It is Christ, the image of God (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), who enlightens fully and brings to completion the image and likeness of God in man. The Word that became man in Jesus Christ has always been mankind’s life and light, the light that enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:4,9). God desires in the one mediator Jesus Christ, his Son, the salvation of all men and women (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5). Jesus is at the same time the Son of God and the new Adam, that is, the new man (cf. 1 Cor 15:47-49; Rom 5:14): “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. In him we are, by God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). (121)
Usury was not a permissible Hebrew custom. Contracts were written to circumvent charging interest by increasing the quantity of goods owed, sometimes double the actual debt. While an interest charge was not enumerated, it was embedded nonetheless in the debt owed to profit stewards and eventually the landowner. Absentee landowners relying on stewards were despised by peasant farmers, viewed as exploitative masters and written about by the prophets for the unjust profits they collected to enslave the people.
How do we inflict usury on people today? Buying goods that are inexpensive to our wallets, but lurking with hidden debts supporting slave labor, human trafficking, environmental degradation or draining resources for future generation is usury against human capital and creation. Do we have the courage, principle and faith to rewrite contracts of exploitation, so exploitation ceases and dignity of work is affirmed? An action of standing up against greed inflicted by people gazing at computer screens, never seeing the faces of despair and misery their policies cause. How can we attend the holy sacrifice of the mass, say we worship a God of mercy and justice, yet support social and economic usury by our lifestyles?
Mammon implies not just fiscal resources, but from its Greek roots, that in which one trusts. Will we release our grasp on social status, economic affluence to free our hands to reach out and hold the hand of those victimized, exploited and marginalized? May we realize our true mammon is solidarity of the human family? A reflection of the compassion we receive from our loving God shared and multiplied in the world so we do not trample the needy and destroy the poor of the land. Let us have the resolve to rewrite social and economic promissory notes laced with injustice to reflect mutually beneficial agreements across the total breadth of society.
Individual Reflection: Amos 8:4-7
Share with your parish Catholic Confront Global Poverty resources: http://www.confrontglobalpoverty.org/
Family Reflection: Luke 16:1-13
September 21st is the Feast of St Matthew. As St Matthew was called away from his work as a tax collector, how is God calling us away from our comfort zones?
Prayer: Find this and more prayers at:
Oh, God, we didn’t see them.
But you did—
The hundred and thousands of human beings
Trafficked each year to join the millions who are trapped in modern-day slavery
Under terrible conditions, they work in factories, plough fields,
harvest crops, work quarries, fill brothels, clean homes, and haul water
Many are children with tiny fingers for weaving rugs
and small shoulders for bearing rifles
Their labor is forced, their bodies beaten, their faces hidden
from those who don’t really want to see them.
But you see them all, God of the poor.
You hear their cry and you answer by
opening our eyes, and breaking our hearts
and loosening our tongues to insist:
No mas. No more.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born September 12, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.