OT XXV [C] (Sept 22) Sunday homily- one-page summary(L/19)
OT XXV [C] (Sept 22) Sunday homily- one-page summary(L/19)
on Lk 16:1-13 (L-19)
Today’s readings remind us that we are God’s stewards and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings, like wealth, wisely to attain Heavenly bliss.
Scripture lessons summarized:
Condemning the crooked business practices of the 8th century BC Jewish merchants of Judea, Amos, the prophet of social justice, reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh, the God of justice. We need to practice justice and mercy to all, as God’s faithful stewards. Amos warns us also against gaining money by any means, as the goal of our life. In the second reading,St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to the pagans and by including them in intercessory prayers, too. Today’s Gospel story tells us about the crooked but resourceful manager and challenges us to use our blessings -- time, talents, health and wealth – wisely and justly so that they will serve us for our good, in eternity. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and when we love and help the needy around us, because these are the purposes for which God has entrusted His blessings to us.
1) We need to be faithful in the little things of life: Let us remember Saint John Chrysostom’s warning, "Faithfulness in little things is a big thing," and the remainder of St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa, canonized September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), “Do little things with great love.” Hence, let us not ignore doing little things, like acknowledging a favor by saying a sincere “thank you,” or congratulating others for their success, or sharing in their sorrows and/or offering them help and support in their needs.
2) We need to use our spiritual resources wisely. The manager in Jesus’ story used all his resources to secure his future. We must be no less resourceful. We have at our disposal the Holy Mass and the Seven Sacraments as sources of Divine grace, the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation and practice, and the teaching authority of the Spirit-guided Church to direct us in our Christian life. We need to use these resources in such a way that it will be said of us, "And the master commended them because they acted so prudently."
3) We need to be prepared to give an account of our stewardship. We insure our houses against fire, storms, flood, and thieves, just as we insure our lives, buying life insurance, health insurance and car insurance. In the same way, let us insure ourselves for the one thing that most certainly will happen, namely, our meeting God to give Him an account of our lives. What really matters, at that time of our Private Judgment by God at the moment of our death, is how wisely we have used our blessings during our life, lovingly and generously sharing them with others in need.
OT XXV [C] (Sept 22): Readings: Am 8:4-7; I Tm 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Homily starter anecdote:
# 1: “That is the hotel I have just built for you to manage". One stormy night many years ago, an elderly couple entered the lobby of a small hotel and asked for a room. The clerk explained that because there were three conventions in town, the hotel was filled. He added, "But I can't send a nice couple like you out in the rain at 1 o'clock in the morning. Would you be willing to sleep in my room?" The couple hesitated, but the clerk insisted. The next morning when the man paid his bill, he told the clerk, "You're the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I'll build one for you." The clerk smiled, amused by the older man's "little joke." A few years passed. Then one day the clerk received a letter from the elderly man recalling that stormy night and asking him to come to New York for a visit. A round-trip ticket was enclosed. When the clerk arrived, his host took him to the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, where a grand new building stood. "That," explained the elderly man, "is the hotel I have just built for you to manage." "You must be joking," the clerk said. "I most assuredly am not," came the reply. "Who--who are you?" stammered the clerk. The man answered, "My name is William Waldorf Astor." That hotel was the original Waldorf-Astoria, one of the most magnificent hotels in New York. The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. The story reinforces today’s Gospel message about the prudent use of earthly treasures and resources we have been given by God. If we use God‘s loving gifts to us to love others and help them in their need, He will be our reward in Heaven. (http://www.snopes.com/glurge/waldorf.asp)
# 2: Returned overpayments: CNN reported that In March 1994, the huge defense contractor Martin Marietta returned to the Pentagon some 540 overpayments, totaling $135 million. Of course, that was nothing compared to the $1.4 billion in overpayments various defense contractors returned to the Pentagon in 1993. With a fresh reading of the parable of the unjust steward in today’s Gospel in mind, it is hard to read a report like that without wondering where the truth is. Defense contractors do not belong to altruistic organizations. So why did Martin Marietta really return $135 million to the Pentagon? And if $1.4 billion in overpayments was returned in 1993, how much was not returned? The unjust steward in today’s Gospel parable was also not concerned with truth and justice, but with his survival by any means.
# 3: Waddling ducks: Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, once told about a make-believe country where only ducks lived. On Sunday morning all the ducks came into Church, waddled down the aisle, waddled into their pews and squatted. Then the duck minister came in, took his place behind the pulpit, opened the Duck Bible and read, "Ducks! You have wings, and with wings you can fly like eagles. You can soar into the skies! Ducks! You have wings!" All the ducks yelled, "Amen!" and then they all waddled home. [Jim Burns, Radically Committed (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991).] No one flew or even tried. Friends, there’s just too much truth to that little fable. Using the parable of a rascal manager in today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges us to see that it is time for the children of light to quit waddling. It's time for us to soar by wisely using our God-given talents and blessings for the welfare of others, thus glorifying God and becoming eligible for our eternal reward. May we be the people that Jesus praises because we saw something that needed to be done and we did it.
All three selections for today’s liturgy pertain to the subject of faithful stewardship. They remind us that we are God’s stewards and that God expects faithful and prudent stewardship from us. They challenge us to use our God-given talents and blessings wisely to attain Heavenly bliss.
Scripture lessons summarized:
Condemning the crooked business practices of the 8th century BC Jewish merchants of Judea, Amos, the Prophet of social Justice, today reminds the Israelites and us to be faithful to our Covenant with Yahweh by practicing justice and mercy as God’s faithful stewards. He warns us also against making the goal of our life the gaining money by any means. In the second reading, St. Paul instructs the first century Judeo-Christians to become true stewards of the Gospel of Jesus, the only mediator, by preaching the “Good News” to pagans and including them in intercessory prayers as well. Today’s Gospel story tells us about a crooked but resourceful manager and challenges us to use our blessings -- time, talents, health, and wealth – wisely and justly so that they will serve us for our good, in eternity. We use our earthly wealth wisely when we spend it for our own needs in moderation and when we love and help the needy around us, because these are the purposes for which God has entrusted His blessings to us.
First reading: Amos 8:4-7, explained:
Amos, “the prophet of justice,” was the first of the writing prophets during the 38-year span when Uzziah was king of Judah (781-743 BC). For a long time, the territory we call the Holy Land was divided between a Northern Kingdom called Israel with Samaria as its capital, and a Southern Kingdom known as Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. In the 8th century BC, Israel was prosperous only for the upper classes. The corrupt business community exploited the poor people while the priests ignored both the corruption and the poor who suffered from it. In those days, commercial activities were forbidden on the Sabbath and during the days around the New Moon. Not only did these predatory merchants resent the Sabbath rest as a loss of profits, but their business methods were completely unscrupulous. The businessmen wanted those sacred periods to be over so that they might get more time to make profits by their dishonest business practices like charging high prices and using false weights. Hence, the Lord God, through His Prophet Amos, warned them of the coming downfall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its lack of Covenant morality, expressed by the abusive, disrespectful, and arrogant treatment of the poor and the needy by the rich and powerful. “They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth and force the lowly out of the way.” (2:7) In the Covenant relationship between God and his people, loving compassion and concern for the unfortunate, honesty, and integrity were supposed to be distinguishing qualities in the community. Amos unequivocally declared that God would not tolerate the abuse of the weak.
Second reading: I Timothy 2: 1-8 explained:
Paul struggled to get Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians to respect each other and not to compartmentalize God’s salvation. Hence, in today’s second reading, he reminds Timothy (a community leader equivalent to a bishop), and his congregation that God's concern extends to all people, not just themselves. Some scholars think that some early Jewish Christians might have refused to pray for pagans, and that this passage was intended to correct that mistake. In the passage, Paul insists that he has been called to take the Gospel to all people. He requests prayers for civil rulers and those in high positions, so that all people may live a quiet and peaceable life and come to salvation through the one mediator, Christ Jesus. This teaching is reflected in our modern Prayer of the Faithful, which should embrace the needs of the whole world, not just those of the Church.
A strange parable: The parable of the crooked steward or dishonest manager has shocked good Church people for centuries. It appears that Truth Incarnate is praising a crooked business manager for deception, or that He who gave us the commandment, “Thou shalt not steal” is himself praising someone for violating it. St. Augustine said, “I can’t believe that this story came from the lips of our Lord.” Jesus tells a paradoxical story about the steward (manager), of the estate of a rich absentee landlord. The steward was an out-and-out rascal. But his boss praised him for his rascality because he acted with foresight. Facing the coming return of his master and an audit of his accounts, the steward cleverly converted the debtors of his master into his own debtors. He bought "friends" with his master’s money and used these "friends” to secure a means of livelihood for the rapidly and certainly approaching point when he would be dismissed (for his previous embezzlement). In Luke’s account there are four morals drawn from the story to unfold its meaning. The parable advises us to take inventory of the resources placed in our charge: time, talents, opportunities, health, intelligence, education, and other advantages. It also challenges us to use these resources wisely so that they will serve for our good in eternity.
Lessons of the parable as presented by Luke:
1. Let the children of light acquire the prudence of the children of this world (verse 8). The steward in the parable was a dishonest rascal who had been put in charge of his master's estate. He was a type of broker. In business transactions, such a manager or broker would be paid by adding on something to what was borrowed, rather be given a percentage taken out of the master’s proceeds. For example, if someone borrowed 50 denarii or 50 barrels of oil, he would have to pay back the 50 to the master and another 10 — or 30 or 50 — to the broker, whatever the broker thought he could get. This dishonest steward was probably tacking on way too big a commission, in order to maximize his profits. His master was probably a Palestinian landlord residing in a large city. When caught red-handed for misappropriation of profits, the steward cleverly falsified the entries in the account books so that the debtors appeared to owe far less than their actual debt. What he was doing was eliminating most or all of his commission to earn the favor of his customers. The steward knew that when his master fired him, he would need friends. His dishonest plan would serve two purposes. First, the debtors would be grateful to him and would support him financially. Second, he would be in a position to exercise a little judicious blackmail to silence them.
‘The children of this world’ are the children of darkness who see and value only the things of this world. They live for this world, concentrate their attention on it, invest everything in it, give the energies of mind and body fully to it, and find in it their entire purpose for living. Christian believers, however, are ‘the children of light’ who see real, eternal, spiritual values as primary and regard temporal values as secondary. The children of this world regard themselves as owners, while true Christians regard themselves as mere stewards of God who view their resources as simply loaned to them by God. To the Christian, "riches" mean spiritual and human values. Our stewardship requires us to use our advantages to help others.
Obviously, Jesus was not commending the steward’s dishonesty. He was commending his shrewd resourcefulness. The parable points out that Christians should be as prudent and resourceful in acquiring goodness as the steward was in acquiring money and making his future safe. Christians must give as much attention to things that concern their souls as they do to the things that concern worldly matters. In saving our souls and spreading the Good News, our Lord wants us to apply the same ingenuity and effort that other people put into their worldly affairs or into their attempts to attain some human ideal. In other words, our Christianity will begin to be real and effective when we spend as much time and effort on spiritual matters as we do on worldly activities, and when the Church uses the worldly business sense of a good steward in conducting its ministries.
2. Invest temporal goods to acquire eternal welfare. Jesus reminds us that earthly resources will eventually run out. Hence, our material possessions should be used for the good of others, to cement friendships wherein lie the real and permanent values of life. This can be done in two ways. (a) In regard to eternity. It was a Jewish belief that charity given to the poor would stand to a man's credit in the world to come. A man's true wealth consisted, not in what he owned, but in what he gave away. The right use of wealth, according to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke, is to help the poor, the hungry, and the starving. That is the way that we make friends with God and please God according to this text. There are many people in our parish who live lives of generosity. There are many people in the Catholic Church who understand that God has given us money so that we can be generous to the needy, the poor and the starving. Thus, many of us are making wise investments for the future. (b) In regard to this world. A man can use his wealth not only to make life easier for himself, but also for his brothers and sisters. Perhaps he will fund scholarships for students or give to charitable organizations and missionary endeavors. There are a million possibilities. We are on the right path if we are using our earthly wealth to attain our heavenly goal. “Money is an instrument that can buy everything but happiness and purchase a ticket to every place but Heaven.” Hence making money should not be the goal of our existence.
3. Integrity and fidelity are the true yardsticks for promotion and eternal reward (verse 10). A man's way of fulfilling a small task is the best proof of his fitness or unfitness to be entrusted with a larger task. No man will be advanced to a higher office until he has given proof of his honesty and ability in a lower position. Jesus extends this principle to eternity. He calls us to faithfulness in little things because most of our life is made up of seemingly small opportunities to do good. Few of us can hope to "save the world." Still, we can conduct our business in honesty, tutor a child, visit a person in a nursing home, or help a neighbor in distress and make a difference in his or her life. Then our Lord will welcome us with the words: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy.” (Mt. 25:21).
How we handle our money and our possessions is a test of our character. It reveals whether or not we are morally qualified to receive the true riches of Heaven. How we treat what belongs to another is a test of our fitness to be entrusted with our own possessions. How do we treat others -- their name, their possessions, their time, their ministry, their feelings, their family? The answer will reveal our fitness for true stewardship. This is why Jesus asked the question, “If you have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (verse 12). While we live on earth, we are in charge of things which are not really ours. We cannot take them with us when we die. They are only lent to us--we are only stewards over them. On the other hand, in Heaven we will receive what is really and eternally ours. Our Heavenly destiny depends on how we use the things of earth. Jesus gives us this parable in order to help us to see that our time is coming to an end and that we need to prepare an accounting, checking whether we were using God’s gifts of wealth, health, talents and other blessings selfishly or for His glory by sharing it with others. .
4. "No servant can serve two masters" (verse 13). In the Greco-Roman world, the master had exclusive possession of his slave. A slave had no spare time of his own, since every ounce of his energy belonged to his master. In this saying, Jesus reminds us that, like slaves, we cannot serve God on a part-time basis. Once a man chooses to serve God, every moment of his time and every atom of his energy belong to God. God is the most exclusive of masters. We belong to Him either totally or not at all. As Christians, we are called to serve God first. We must not use money and possessions exclusively to serve our own purposes. Let us remember the proverb, “Money can buy everything but true happiness, and it can purchase a ticket to every place except to Heaven.” This parable of serving two masters may seem ironic. Perhaps, Jesus was attacking the Sadducees and Pharisees. The Sadducees cheated a bit on the Mosaic Law so that they might accommodate themselves to the Roman government. The Pharisees made a big show of giving small amounts of money to the poor. The lesson is that we cannot be nominal Christians, calling ourselves “Christians” and committing little wrongs while expecting God's praise.
1) We need to be faithful in little things of life: Often we get so caught up in our work that we ignore the little things of life. But let us not ignore these little matters -- things like dropping someone an encouraging note or extending people a simple, "Thank you." Similarly, we ought to take time out of our workday to help others in small things. As Saint John Chrysostom said, "Faithfulness in little things is a big thing." We may not be able to reach millions of people all over the world by satellite as famous talk-show hosts or televangelists do. But in our own part of the world, we can faithfully do little things to point people toward Jesus. Our future opportunities in the eternal service of God largely depend on our stewardship in handling the little opportunities we have had on earth. As St. Teresa of Calcutta (Blessed Mother Teresa, canonized September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis), used to recommend, “Do little things with great love.”
2) We need to act wisely, trusting in the power and assistance of God. Today’s parable gives us some practical advice. We are urged to stride into the future with confidence -- not in ourselves or our abilities, but in the power and grace of God. The manager in Jesus’ story used all his resources to secure his future. We must be no less resourceful. At our disposal we have Hope in God’s justice, Faith in God’s assistance, trust in God’s grace and the reality of His Love within us. We have the Holy Mass and the Seven Sacraments as sources of Divine grace, the Holy Bible as the word of God for daily meditation and practice, and the Spirit-guided Church to direct us. These are the best possible resources; we need to use them in such a way that it will be said of us, "And the master commended them because they acted so wisely."
3) We need to be prepared to give an account of our life. We are all stewards of what God has entrusted to us, so some day we will have to give Him an account of our stewardship. We prepare ourselves for all kinds of things, most of which never happen. But do we care enough for our souls to insure ourselves against the one thing that most certainly will happen? We must meet God and give an accounting. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (II Corinthians 5:10). Jesus wants us to be as prudent in the spiritual realm as greedy businessmen are in the material realm. Thus, the only thing that will count in our favor is the testimony of those who will say, "Lord, when I was really in need, he gave to me, at a cost to himself. He helped me along. He showed love to me and proved it by giving himself to me."
JOKE OF THE WEEK
1)“Four and take two, myself.” A businessman who heads his own company interviewed three applicants for a job. As a test, he asks: “If you divide six by two, what’s the result?” “Three,” answered the first applicant. He was not hired for being too honest. “Two,” answered the second applicant. Again, he was not hired because he was dishonest and for being an ignorant fool. This third applicant answered, “Sir, if I were to divide six between you and me, I would rather give you four and take two, myself.” He was hired for being clever.
2) Wisdom of the children of the world: The local Jewish Rabbi is out jogging through the countryside. He encounters a man with two puppies for sale. He asks the man what kind of puppies they are, and the man responds, "They're Jewish puppies, Rev. Rabbi." The Rabbi thinks that it is so great that the next day he brings his wife to see these puppies for herself. He asks the man to tell his wife what kind of puppies they are, and the man responds, "They're Catholic puppies." The Rabbi looks puzzled and says, "Yesterday, you told me they were Jewish puppies." The man smiles and says, "Yesterday, they were. But today, they have their eyes opened and a Catholic priest booked them offering a higher price and paying in advance!"
3) Trustworthy with dishonest wealth? Abraham wanted a new suit, so he bought a nice piece of cloth and then tried to locate a tailor. The first tailor he visited looked at the cloth and measured Abraham, then told him the cloth was not enough to make a suit. Abraham was unhappy with this opinion and sought another tailor. This tailor measured Abraham, then measured the cloth, and then smiled and said, "There is enough cloth to make a pair of trousers, a coat and a vest, please come back in a week to take your suit." After a week, Abraham came to take his new suit and saw the tailor's son wearing trousers made of the same cloth. Perplexed, he asked, "Just how could you make a full suit for me and trousers for your son, when the other tailor could not even make a suit?" "It's very simple," replied the tailor, "The other tailor has two sons."
3) Estate Planning: Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune. One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. "I may look like just an ordinary man," he said to her, "but in just a few years, my father will die, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars." Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later she became his stepmother. Are crooked women so much better at estate planning than crooked men?
USEFUL WEBSITES OF THE WEEK
1) Cove of Catholic
2) Bible pronunciation- audio-guide
3) Catholic Apologetics Resource
4) Movie on the gospel according to Luke
5) Controversial Articles
6) Religious humor cartoons
7) Video homilies: Movie clip (Non-Catholic): i) https://youtu.be/-30BRjDDVPU
23 - Additional Anecdotes
1) Are you making plans for your long-term future…with God? Those who are going to retire ask two questions: 1) “How much money will I need to retire comfortably?” 2) “Will I be able to die with dignity?” The Presidential Commission on Retirement in the U.S. informs us that we will need about seventy percent of our present income to live about as we live today. If the present lifestyle costs us about $50,000, we are going to need about $35,000 to retire comfortably. According to PCR there are three resources for our income of the future: a) Social Security, b) the retirement program from our place of employment, and c) our savings account. But everybody knows that in the not so distant future, Social Security benefits will be reduced because there will not be a sufficient number of workers in the workforce to pay for the huge number of previously retired people still alive. In addition, seventy percent of the people working in America do not have a pension program through their employer. Besides, Americans in general are notoriously poor savers, and, hence, most of them have not saved enough money to pay the bills of their future retirement. So, can we be sure that when the end of our life comes we are not going to end up in bankruptcy and poverty? Are we making plans for our long-term future? How is our investment program doing? Today’s Gospel asks the same question: Are we really wise in planning for our long-term future with God? Are we as wise in storing up for ourselves treasures in Heaven for our eternal retirement as we are in gathering treasures on earth for our retirement here?
2) “Didn't Speak Up:" With the Second World War behind him, the German Lutheran pastor, Martin Niemoeller, wrote his now famous confession called "I Didn't Speak Up," and it is apropos: “In Germany, the Nazis first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.” Would that all of those involved in the religious enterprise were as effective as the manager in this parable! "What shall I do...?" he immediately wondered. He quickly cleared his brain to answer that one. He did not deny the reality of his need to take action, and he escaped ingeniously.
3) Crooked stockbroker and financial planner: Claude Lochet, of Orleans, Massachusetts, showed such charm and inspired such trust as a stockbroker and financial planner that dozens of retired persons and elderly widows invested their life savings with him. The thirty-four-year-old seemed to be the model of professionalism. Suddenly, in December 1991, Lochet disappeared. At first, foul play was suspected, but then it was learned that $1.7 million was missing from client accounts. Then Lochet’s van, with stubs for plane tickets to Paris, was discovered in the parking area of Kennedy Airport in New York. Embezzlement and larceny charges were brought against Lochet, but he could not be found. Meanwhile, Lochet’s elderly clients were left with big losses. Most who had invested through Lochet were living on fixed incomes or modest pensions. On February 21, 1992, “Prime Suspect,” a nationally syndicated television show that airs fugitive cases, described Lochet’s case. Two callers from Los Angeles telephoned to report that a man fitting Lochet’s description was living in their area. Lochet was arrested. None of the money was found. When Los Angeles Detective Carl Holmstrom asked Lochet why he stole $1.7 million from clients, the fugitive broker showed no remorse. His only comment? “Everybody does it.” [Dr. William P. Barker, Tarbell’s (Elgin, Illinois: David C. Cook Church Ministries, 1994).] In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of such a con artist.
4) The Dynamite King: Wise people know how to use their fortunes to improve their reputations. One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, one of the world's leading industrialists, opened a French newspaper and was shocked to see his own obituary. It was a mistake, of course. It was Alfred's brother who had died. However, Alfred Nobel had an opportunity to read about how other people saw him. The obituary simply called him "The Dynamite King." He had made a fortune in manufacturing and selling explosives, but it rankled with him to be thought of that way. Alfred Nobel decided to use his wealth to change that reputation. He immediately arranged his estate to establish the Nobel Prize, to be given each year to the person or persons who do the most for the cause of world peace. In the past century, it has long been forgotten that the name Nobel once meant "The Dynamite King." Today the name stands synonymous with promoting world peace. (John T. Carroll and James R. Carroll, Preaching the Hard Sayings of Jesus pp. 116-117.)
5) Shrewd farmer and the crooked lawyer: There was a story in the newspaper about a young lawyer who was called in from the big city to represent a large railroad company that was being sued by a farmer. It seems that the farmer's prize cow was missing from a field through which the railroad passed, and the farmer was suing for the value of the cow. Before the case was to be tried, the lawyer cornered the farmer and convinced him to settle out of court for half of what he originally wanted. The farmer signed the necessary papers and then accepted the check. The young lawyer could not resist gloating a bit about his success. He said to the farmer, "You know, I couldn't have won this case if it had gone to trial. The engineer was asleep, and the fireman was in the caboose when the train passed through your farm that morning. I didn't have a single witness to put on the stand!" With a wry smile, the old farmer replied, "Well, I tell you young feller, I was a little worried about winning that case myself because that cow came home this morning." Both the farmer and the lawyer could have related to a shrewd crook Jesus told us about.
6) Shrewd deposit of casino winnings: An elderly lady reported winnings of $6500 from the Tunica casinos last year. She claimed a charitable deduction for half of her winnings---$3250---which she gave to her Church. No, she did not tell her pastor where that contribution came from. Some of her friends asked her why she gave 50 percent to the Church rather than the customary 10 percent tithe which the Bible commends. She replied, "If God was good enough to let me win $6500, He ought to get half of it." This lady reminds me of the dishonest steward of long ago. We aren't supposed to approve of the way they got their money; but we have to admire the shrewd and farsighted way in which they planned for the future. Even a crook can teach us something.
7) Hurricane compensation: A man in Florida had survived Hurricane Andrew. One day one of his neighbors asked him, "So, what claims are you putting in?" The man had not suffered any damage to his house or car from the storm, so he answered, "None." The neighbor couldn't believe it. "Hey, here's your opportunity to collect a few bucks," the neighbor said. "The insurance companies are practically writing checks on the spot. How could anyone pass up putting in a claim for $5,000 for wet carpeting or a damaged car? After all, you've been paying premiums all these years. Why not get a little back?" Does that sound familiar? The neighbor's willingness to give in to the temptation to falsify a claim is not that unusual. One-third of those sampled by the University of Florida's Insurance Research Center believe it's okay to falsify an insurance application. One-half of them feel it's all right to shade the truth in order to save on out-of-pocket deductibles. This is the state of ethics in our society today. That's sad. For one thing, we all pay for such chicanery. And secondly, it's getting so you don't know whom you can trust.
8) John D. Rockefeller in a skin-deep society: Our skin-deep society costs a lot of cash. It's not just the plastic surgeons who are getting rich on $10,000 face-lifts or $3000 liposuctions. There are also the cosmetic companies, the clothing industries, the fitness gurus, the drug companies, and the diet doctors. What would happen if we took some of the cash we spend on making ourselves look good and invested it in doing good for others, or for their souls? A soul-deep life, Spirit-filled and Spirit-powered, remains ever vital, ever ready to serve the needs of the kingdom. Brian Tracey tells this story about John D. Rockefeller, a "robber baron" capitalist that some might also call a dishonest manager. "John D. Rockefeller, who became the richest man in the world, started as a clerk at $43.75 per week. Even at that small salary, he gave as much as 50 percent of his salary to his Church every week to contribute to the betterment of others. Years passed. When he was fifty-two years old, he was extraordinarily wealthy, perhaps the richest man in the world. He was also extremely sick, and his doctors told him that he would die within a year. He thought back on his early years and the pleasure he got from contributing to his Church, he resolved that he would spend his last year giving his money away. He sold half of his stock in the Standard Oil Company. He then began financing worthy causes around the country. Something incredible happened. The more money he gave away, the better he felt. His health improved. His illnesses went away. He recovered completely. He went on to live to age 91, in excellent health. By the time he died, he had given away millions of dollars. Meanwhile, the value of the Standard Oil Stock he had kept had increased so much that he died with more money than he had when he was on his deathbed many years before." [Brian Tracey, Focal Point (New York: AMACOM, 2002), 182-83.]
9) “It works almost every time. “An insurance salesman stuck his head into a department store sales manager's office. "You don't want to buy any insurance, do you?" he asked timidly. "Young man, who taught you how to sell?" asked the sales manager. "Don't ever ask that kind of question! Your problem is a lack of confidence. Give me an application blank. I'll buy some insurance from you to give you confidence in yourself." After completing the application, the sales manager gave the young man a lecture: "Now remember, each customer is different. Figure out what each one really wants. Then you will know how to develop an approach that fits." "That is exactly what I do," said the salesman. "I just gave you my approach for sales managers. It works almost every time." (R. Robert Cueni, The Vital Church Leader, pp. 12-13). Smart! In today’s Gospel Jesus challenges his followers to be, not just “smart,” but truly as wise in the things of Heaven.
10) Armed robbery during Sunday worship: An interesting story appeared in the newspapers sometime back. Worshipers at the Second Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, had a rude interruption during worship services earlier this year. Three guys wearing masks burst into the Church. One pulled out a gun and announced that the worshipers were to get out their money and remove their jewelry and rings. It was a tense moment for this congregation. But hold on. This hold-up was not what it appeared to be. It turns out that the Church's pastor, the Rev. Napoleon A. Harris, IV, had staged the robbery to teach his congregation a lesson. The message was about "robbing God." Rev. Harris said the lesson was one of "responsibility, accountability, and dependability." "It is my job to convey God's word," Rev. Harris said. "There's nothing comfortable about telling God's word," he said about his little staged drama. The police saw the incident in a different manner. They described the lesson as a dangerous game. Rev. Harris doesn't understand the fuss. He said, "I teach practical lessons every week." ["Spreading the Word by Hook or by Crook," The Philadelphia Inquirer, (March 13, 1992), pg. 3.] In today’s Gospel, Jesus is trying to teach us a practical lesson, and his story is just about as shocking.
11) The Sting and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: The parable in today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus had a great sense of humor. Remember how you laughed when you saw the movie, The Sting? Remember how great it was when Paul Newman and Robert Redford outwitted the gangsters, swindling them out of their money? If a little guy puts one over on his rich boss, what do we care? It’s funny. After all, the big guy is a money-grabbing capitalist, so maybe he deserves it! Remember the movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels? One crook tried to outwit another, and finally both got outwitted by a savvy woman. That’s funny. It is fun to see the little guy put one over on Mr. Big. It’s fun to share Jesus’ delight.
12) Golden handshake: There was a Home Building company, and their business was on a very large scale. There is a story told about one of their building contractors, who was approaching the age of retirement. He had become very careless, and his working standards were constantly slipping. He began cutting corners, using inferior material, and taking shortcuts. He was quite pleased with himself, and he felt he was onto a good thing here. As time progressed, the standard of his work deteriorated. The houses were new, so the faults would not show up straightaway, and he would be well out of the business by then. The time of his retiring arrived, and it coincided with what was possibly the most shoddily built house he had ever produced. Imagine his surprise, at his retirement party, when his golden handshake was to be presented with the keys of that last house he had just completed! (Fr. Jack McArdle)
13) Money Makers: When her husband, Ray Kroc, died in 1984, Joan Kroc was left with an estimated $700 million. Her wealth included an 8.7 percent share of the common stock of the McDonald’s food empire and full ownership of the San Diego Padres Baseball Franchise. Since that time this fast-food empress has become a woman of many causes. Besides giving sizable donations to nuclear-disarmament groups, the San Diego zoo, St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis and the American Red Cross for African Famine relief, Joan Kroc has also been a steady supporter of the arts, alcohol and drug rehabilitation, medical research, wildlife preservation and programs to combat child abuse. Some skeptics dismiss her as a jet-set do-gooder, but close friends say that she becomes personally involved in many of the causes she supports. Today’s readings from Scripture seem to be a blueprint for Joan Kroc’s use of money. She is the antithesis of the rich decried by the prophet Amos for trampling on the needy and taking unfair advantage of the poor. The Gospel reading is a collection of three separate statements Jesus made about money and material things, which Joan Kroc seems to have taken to heart. (Albert Cylwicki in His Word Resounds).
14) Shrewd Paul Newman: In the precarious movie industry, actor, director Paul Newman has managed to remain a super-star for a long time. He is a man who has developed all his personal gifts to the full. His many fans throughout the world will attest to this point. In addition, he has enthusiastically lived verse 9 of today's Gospel. "Use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past, you may be received into an eternal home." Mr. Newman has given away more than 300 million dollars to various charitable causes. Additionally, he sponsors a camp for youngsters who are terminally ill. Sixteen hundred sick children receive a summer holiday in the country courtesy of the actor. This venture has cost him additional millions.
Billy Graham might have had Paul Newman in mind when he said, "God has given us two hands - one to receive with and the other to give with." (Fr. James Gilhooley)
15) $125 billion to charitable causes: At the urging of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, forty of the world's richest families have promised to give at least half of their fortunes to philanthropy. By taking the "Giving Pledge," the forty families or individuals, most of whom are billionaires, are promising a collective sum of at least $125 billion to charitable causes, based on Forbes' current estimates of their net worth and other data sources. According to the pledge, the giving can occur either during donors' lifetimes or after their passing. Each has committed at least 50 percent of his or her net worth, but many have committed to larger percentages, Buffett said. The men and women taking the pledge are free to direct their money to causes of their choice, and the organization is not pooling any money or dictating areas of need. In fact, the pledge is non-binding, though the organizers say the billionaires are making a "moral commitment," publicly signing their names to letters posted on a website, GivingPledge.org. (http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bill-gates-warren-buffett-organize-billionaire-giving-pledge/story?id=11325984)
16) Make your choice: Jenny Lind, the great Swedish soprano disappointed many of her friends because she turned down so many big business contracts that would have made her world famous. One day a friend was surprised to find her sitting on a sunny seashore reading the New Testament. The friend rebuked the singer for not seizing her chances. Quickly, Jenny put her hand over the New Testament and said, "I have found that making vast sums of money was spoiling my taste for this." Robert Kimchi says thus: "This world is a house; Heaven the roof, the stars the lights; the earth, with its fruits, a table spread; the master of the house is the holy and blessed God; man is the steward, into whose hands the goods of this house are delivered; if he behaves himself well, he will find favor in the eyes of the Lord; if not, he will be turned out of his stewardship." We are all stewards; therefore, the day of accounting is there for each one of us.
(John Rose in John's Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho).
17) Street-smart: An up-dated but innocent example of the children of this world being enterprising is the department store clerk who had broken all sales records. Modestly disclaiming credit, he explained to his boss, "A customer came in, and I sold him some fishhooks. "You will need a line for those hooks," I said, and sold him some line. Then I told him, "You have to have a rod to go with the line," and I sold him a rod. "You ought to have a boat so you can use your new rod in deep water," I suggested, and sold him a boat. Next I told him, "You'll need a boat trailer" and he fell for that too. Finally, I said, "How will you pull the trailer without a car? And guess what? He bought my car." And the boss said, "But I assigned you to the greetings card department." "That is right," the salesman nodded. "This customer came to me for a get-well card for his girl, who had a broken hip. When I heard that I said to him, 'You haven't got anything to do for six weeks, so you might as well go fishing.'" (Harold Buetow in God Still Speaks: Listen! quoted by Fr. Botelho).
18) An astute manager: A few years ago, a priest was giving a retreat to inmates in a federal prison in the South. One of the talks dealt with Jesus’ teaching about revenge. Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. When someone strikes you on [your] right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.” To illustrate Jesus’ point, the priest told the story of Jackie Robinson, the first black athlete to play in the major leagues. When Branch Rickey signed Jackie to a Dodger contract in 1945, he told him, “You will have to take everything they dish out to you and never strike back.” Rickey was right. On the field, pitchers brushed Jackie back with blazing fastballs, and opposing fans and teams taunted him. Off the field, he was thrown out of hotels and restaurants where the rest of the team stayed and ate. Through it all, Jackie kept his cool. He turned the other cheek. And so did Dodgers’ General Manager Rickey, who was abused by people for signing Jackie. The priest ended the story by asking the prisoners this question: “Where do you think black athletes would be today had Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey not turned the other cheek?” After the talk, a prisoner said to the priest: “That’s a nice story, Father. But why didn’t you tell the whole story? Why didn’t you tell why Rickey and Robinson turned the other cheek? It wasn’t for love of God. It was for love of money. Rickey turned the other cheek because if he succeeded, he would make a fortune too.” The priest thought to himself for a minute: “If the prisoner’s right, then he’s just shot my nice little story right out of the water.” But then the priest thought: “Hey! Wait a minute! If the prisoner’s right, then my story makes an even more important point!” It’s the same point Jesus makes in today’s Gospel. Jesus says: “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).
19) “Treason! Treason!” On 22 August 1485, in marshy fields near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, Richard III led the last charge of knights in English history. A circlet of gold around his helmet, his banners flying, he threw his destiny into the hands of the god of battles. Among the astonished observers of this glittering panoply of horses and steel galloping towards them were Sir William Stanley and his brother Thomas, whose forces had hitherto taken no part in the action. Both watched intently as Richard swept across their front and headed towards Henry Tudor, bent only on eliminating his rival. As the King battled his way through Henry’s bodyguard, killing his standard bearer with his own hand and coming within feet of Tudor himself, William Stanley made his move. Throwing his forces at the King’s back he betrayed him and had him hacked down. Richard, fighting manfully and crying, “Treason! Treason!” was butchered in the bloodstained mud of Bosworth Field by a man who was there to support him. This is just one the numerous examples of the dishonest stewards, found in our history. The desire for wealth and power lead men to practice injustice. That is the message that the parable of the dishonest servant gives us.
(Fr. Bobby Jose)
20) Actor Paul Newman the superstar. In the precarious movie industry, actor Paul Newman has managed to remain a super-star for a long time. He is a man who has developed all his personal gifts to the full. His many fans throughout the world will attest to this point. In addition, he has enthusiastically lived verse 9 of today's Gospel. "Use your worldly wealth to win friends for yourselves, so that when money is a thing of the past, you may be received into an eternal home." Mr Newman has given away more than ten million dollars to various charitable causes. Additionally, he sponsors a camp for youngsters who are terminally ill. Sixteen hundred sick children receive a summer holiday in the country courtesy of the actor. This venture has cost him additional millions. Billy Graham might have Paul Newman in mind when he said, "God has given us two hands - one to receive with and the other to give with." If anyone is following the admonition of psalm 113, vs 7-8, it is Newman. "He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes..." The next few sentences from this preacher will come as a surprise to no one. Just as Newman is generous with the gifts that God has given to him, so should we Catholics. We need not be as lavish as he is. Yet, would it not be wonderful if proportionate to our wealth, whether large or small, we were? (Fr. Kayala).
21) Worldly wise: Henry Ford was known for both his frugality and his philanthropy. He was visiting his family's ancestral village in Ireland when two trustees of the local hospital found out he was there, and they managed to get in to see him. They talked him into giving the hospital $5,000 dollars (this was the 1930's, so $5,000 dollars was a great deal of money). The next morning, at breakfast, he opened his newspaper to read the banner headline: "American Millionaire Gives Fifty Thousand to Local Hospital." Ford wasted no time in summoning the two hospital trustees. He waved the newspaper in their faces. "What does this mean?" he demanded. The trustees apologized profusely. "Dreadful error," they said. They promised to get the editor to print a retraction the very next day, stating that the great Henry Ford hadn't given $50,000, but only $5,000. Well, hearing that, Ford offered them the other $45,000, under one condition: that the trustees erect a marble arch at the entrance of the new hospital, with a plaque that read, "I walked among you and you took me in." (Billy D. Strayhorn, Let's Make a Deal).
22) And our dollars are God's dollars! Some of us are good stewards – or may be just tight. Stumpy and his wife Martha went to a state fair every year and every year when Stumpy saw the antique bi-plane he would say, “Martha, I'd like to ride in that airplane.” And Martha always replied, “I know Stumpy, but that airplane ride costs 10 dollars, and 10 dollars is 10 dollars.” One year Stumpy and Martha went to the fair and Stumpy said, “Martha, I'm 81 years old. If I don't ride that airplane, I might never get another chance.” And again, Martha replied, “Stumpy, that airplane ride costs 10 dollars, and 10 dollars is 10 dollars.” The pilot overheard them and said, “Folks, I'll make you a deal. I'll take you both up for a ride. If you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word, I won't charge you; but if you say one word it's 10 dollars.” Stumpy and Martha agreed and up they went. The pilot did all kinds of twists and turns, rolls and dives, but not one word was heard. He did all his tricks over again, but still not a word. When they landed, the pilot turned to Stumpy and said, “By golly, I did everything I could think of to get you to yell out, but you didn't.” Stumpy replied, “Well, I was gonna say something when Martha fell out, but 10 dollars is 10 dollars.” (Quoted by Fr. Larka).
23) What impressed you most about United States? “Your garbage cans.” A famous economics professor from a great University in Europe was travelling through the United States. He visited many of the great buildings and institutions, the skyscrapers of the big cities, stadiums and hospitals. When he was about to return to Europe someone asked him: “What impressed you most about the United States?” Without a moment’s hesitation he replied: “Your garbage cans.” “Garbage cans?” echoed the interviewer, “what is so impressive about the garbage cans?” The professor explained: “Your garbage cans are loaded with wasted food. You Americans waste more food in a week than it would take to feed the children of one European country for a whole month.” Why did the steward in today’s gospel lose his job? Because “he was wasting his master’s goods.” Every one of us is a steward. We are in charge of goods, talents, even people. All these things and persons belong to God. When we waste them, we are committing a sin of injustice and dishonesty. (Msgr. Arthur Tonne). L/19
24) Dishonest stewards: On 22 August 1485, in marshy fields near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, Richard III led the last charge of knights in English history. A circlet of gold around his helmet, his banners flying, he threw his destiny into the hands of the god of battles.Among the astonished observers of this glittering panoply of horses and steel galloping towards them were Sir William Stanley and his brother Thomas, whose forces had hitherto taken no part in the action. Both watched intently as Richard swept across their front and headed towards Henry Tudor, bent only on eliminating his rival. As the King battled his way through Henry’s bodyguard, killing his standard bearer with his own hand and coming within feet of Tudor himself, William Stanley made his move. Throwing his forces at the King’s back he betrayed him and had him hacked down. Richard, fighting manfully and crying, “Treason! Treason!” was butchered in the bloodstained mud of Bosworth Field by a man who was there to support him. This is just one the numerous examples of the dishonest stewards, found in our history. The desire for wealth and power lead men to practice injustice. That is the message that the parable of the dishonest servant gives us. (Fr. Bobby Jose).
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C(No. 47) by Fr. Tony:firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/
for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith“ Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.”
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Click on http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily
and the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text.
Or https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under Fr. Tony or under CBCI
(Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604).