Reflections

TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, SEPTEMBER 18, 2022

I HAVE ENTRUSTED MUCH TO YOU
>>> Preliminary note. For today’s well-known and often confusing parable of the unjust steward, we cannot consider satisfactory a wide-spread commentary that says, “Jesus praises the steward for his slyness, not for his dishonesty,” especially if the man is deemed to act dishonestly canceling or reducing debts at the expense of his master. One understands better the attitude of the steward and the praise the master gives him if the steward changes these debts at his own expense by reducing his margin of profit. In the system of his day the steward would lend, for example, 50 jugs of olive oil and ask to be paid back 100 jugs as his share for arranging the loan. Such usurious rates were standard practices in those times.
 
Greeting (Cf. Second Reading)
We have come together
to offer petitions and thanksgiving
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
the only mediator between God and people.
May the Lord Jesus be always with you.
R/ And with your spirit.
 
Introduction
I Have Entrusted Much to You
The Lord is asking us today: “What have you done with the many things and the people I have entrusted to you?” We speak much today of accountability not only for our jobs, our finances, our families and our parishes, but accountability for our very lives. God has put so much into our hands: the material things we have as well as our gifts and talents. These are not just personal gifts for our own enjoyment, but for our communities, for the Kingdom of God. May we give a good account to the Lord.
On another note, we celebrate the Eucharist of the Lord – where Jesus shares himself with us and he reminds us of how he gave himself so totally for us that in his love he was willing to die for all. In this light we have also to listen to his words. He knows that we need money and things but he warns us not to let money become our master. Rather, let the poor become your masters. The things you have are not really yours. They are on loan to you and you are their steward.
 
Penitential Act
We ask the Lord to forgive us
how selfishly we have managed
all that has been entrusted to us.
(pause)
 
Lord Jesus, when you called us to be good stewards,
we let money and possessions become our masters:
Lord. have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Jesus Christ, when you came to set us free,
we let power and ambition shackle us:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
 
Lord Jesus, when you wanted us to serve the poor
we gave them handouts instead of ourselves:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
 
Set us free again from sin, Lord,
and make us good stewards of the earth’s goods.
Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.
 
Opening Prayer
Let us pray to the Lord
that we may be fair and generous to all
(pause)
 
Just and merciful God,
make us a free people
that refuses to adore money and possessions
and to sacrifice the poor to them.
Make our hearts gentle and compassionate,
that we may open our hands and homes
to the dispossessed and those trampled upon,
to share with them in your name.
Make us just to all.
And may we, with you, lift up the lowly.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. R/ Amen.
 
First Reading (AMOS 8:4-7): God’s People Must Be a Just People
In the name of true religion and the covenant, the prophet Amos warns God’s people: God will reject them if they enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.
 
1 Reading: AMOS 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!
 
Responsorial PSALM 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
R. (cf. 1a, 7b) Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor. or: Alleluia.
 
Praise, you servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
both now and forever. R.
 
High above all nations is the LORD;
above the heavens is his glory.
Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high
and looks upon the heavens and the earth below? R.
 
He raises up the lowly from the dust;
from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
to seat them with princes,
with the princes of his own people. R.
 
Second Reading (1 TIMOTHY 2:1-8): God Wants Everyone to Be Saved
Liturgical prayer, says St. Paul, must be universal and missionary, as God wants everyone to be saved through the only mediator, Jesus Christ. We should not forget to include in our prayers those who do not yet know Christ.
 
2 Reading: 1 TIMOTHY 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 saviour, 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.
 
Alleluia: Cf. 2 CORINTHIANS 8:9
Alleluia, alleluia.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
 
Gospel (LUKE 16:1-13 or 16:10-13): Give Me an Account of Your Service
The heart of Christians must be undivided. Their main concern is to serve God faithfully and to share generously what they have.
 
Gospel: LUKE 16:1-13
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 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.”
 
Commentary
Leaders Who Care
Through Amos, Yahweh warns those who selfishly manipulate resources excluding the poor and the needy. Paul invites us to pray for those in authority so that they govern for the good of all. Jesus exhorts us to be trustworthy in the earthly affairs, with a heart focused on what is eternal.
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, 28th Superior General of the Jesuits, once remarked that any form of government could be good provided those in it had the best interests of the people in their hearts. The world has been currently witnessing a radicalization of national governance in many countries wherein hidden agendas have highjacked the leadership, leading to much victimization of people and collapse of democratic institutions. Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, 13th Superior General of Claretian Missionaries, was once asked by a fellow Claretian his greatest challenge as the Superior General. “To protect the Congregation from myself,” he replied. If only every leader tried their best to protect their flocks from one’s own vested interests and focus on discerning, with the people and in the light of God’s will, what is genuinely good for the people!
Pray for your religious and civil leaders.
Write a letter of appreciation to one of your leaders ensuring him/her of your prayers.
 
Intercessions
Let us pray to the Lord our God to turn the hearts of all to the true values that last. Let us say:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
– For the Church, that it may be a serving Church and a Church of the poor, bearing witness to God’s gratuitousness as a living parable of sharing, let us pray:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
– For those in positions of responsibility in politics, finances and the economy, that justice and concern for the good of all may guide their decisions and actions, let us pray:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
– For those who live by the work of their hands, that people may recognize their dignity and the service they render to all, let us pray:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
– For the poor, those discriminated against, and all those with little access to the world’s goods, that they may receive a fairer share, let us pray:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
– For our Christian communities, that there may be justice among us and a deep concern for each other’s happiness, that greed may give way to sharing and jealousy to loving service, let us pray:
R/ Lord, hear your people.
Lord our God, free us from everything that makes us withdraw into ourselves. Make us live for one another and for you, our God for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
you break for us here
the bread that satisfies the poor,
and pour for us the wine of joy
of Jesus, your Son.
With him, and by the wisdom and strength
of his Holy Spirit,
may we place ourselves
and all our gifts and creativity
in the service of people,
so that your kingdom may grow
in us and among all people,
and, by your grace, stand for ever. R/ Amen.
 
Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
Let us offer ourselves and our work to God that he may make it fruitful, for without him we can do nothing.
 
Invitation to the Lord’s Prayer
With Jesus our Lord
we pray to our Father in heaven
for the coming of his kingdom
even before we pray for our own needs: R/ Our Father…
 
Deliver Us
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil
and extend your peace to all the world.
Let it be a peace based on justice
and on access by every person and nation
to the goods of this earth,
both spiritual and material.
Help us to live without display
and without artificial needs.
May we all work together
for the full coming among us
of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…
 
Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus, our Lord,
who lets us share in the bread and the cup
in which he gives himself to us.
Happy are we to receive him
who made himself poor for us
to make us rich in God. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…
 
Prayer after Communion (from Kyrie)
Almighty, all-rich God,
what you create you give away
and entrust to us.
We try to keep riches and power
firmly in our own hands.
We thank you that you are different:
generous and unobtrusive,
hidden behind your gifts.
Teach us that we do not become smaller
when we make one another great,
nor do we become poorer if others are well-off.
Let us be of the mentality of him
who gave up power and might for our sakes,
Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.
 
Blessing
Let us be good stewards
of all God’s good gifts to us,
and in the service of God and those around us.
And let us also be good stewards
of one another,
with the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
 
Go in peace,
and serve the Lord in one another.
R/ Thanks be to God.

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