Theme: SERVE GOD, NOT MONEY: PRACTICE SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CHARITY TOWARDS THE POOR
- Amos 8:4-7;
- Psalm 112:1-2. 4-8. R/ cf. vv. 1. 7;
- 1 Timothy 2:1-8
- Luke 16:10-13 (Shorter Form)
Today is the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to serve God and not to serve money, that is, to practice social justice and charity towards the poor!
The first reading tells us to practice social justice towards the poor. The first reading is from the prophet Amos. Amos was a prophet of social justice! Amos was a prophet in the 8th century BC when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was very rich! But the riches of Israel belonged to the rich and powerful people. More than that, the rich and powerful people oppressed and exploited the poor and the weak people. In short, the rich and powerful people practiced social injustice towards the poor and weak people. The prophet Amos preached against social injustices! Thus we read in the first reading:
“Hear this, you who trample on the needy to do away with the weak of the land. You who say, ‘When will the new moon or the Sabbath feast be over that we may open the store and sell our grain? Let us lower the measure and raise the price; let us cheat and tamper with the scales, and even sell the refuse with the whole grain. We will buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.’ Yahweh, the pride of Jacob, has sworn by himself, ‘I shall never forget their deeds.’” (Am 8: 4-7; CCB)
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm praises God who raises up the poor! Thus the response:
“Praise the Lord, who raises the poor.” (cf. vv. 1. 7)
The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza gives praise to God (vv. 1-2). The second stanza exalts and elevates God (vv. 4-6). And the third stanza tells us that God raises up the poor (vv. 7-8). (NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:
“From the dust he lifts up the lowly, from the dungheap he raises the poor to set him in the company of princes, yes, with the princes of his people.” (vv. 7-8)
The gospel today tells us to practice charity towards the poor and the weak! Our late Pope, Blessed John Paul II, tells us that social justice is not good enough; we must also practice charity towards the poor. Thus we read in the last verse of the long form of the gospel today:
“And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.” (Lk 16: 9; SM)
The gospel today also tells us that we cannot be the slave of both God and money, that is, we have to serve God and not serve money, that is, we have to serve God by practicing justice and charity towards the poor; and not serve money by practicing injustice towards the poor, and not helping the poor. Thus we read in the gospel today:
“You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” (Lk 16:13; SM)
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something very important to tell us. The second reading tells us to pray for everyone, because God wants to save everyone! We pray because God is the Savior and we pray for everyone because God wants to save everyone! Thus the caption of the second reading:
“There should be prayers offered for everyone to God, who wants everyone to be saved.”
Today we thank God for all his blessings, particularly the material blessings, particularly money, and we ask God to help us to practice social justice and charity towards the poor and the needy. God bless you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.