Jesus teaches us to worship the Father in Spirit and truth. He also warns us that we cannot serve God and money.
Jesus frets till he serves to the utmost and gives up his body and sheds his blood to save us. Those who trample on the poor, on the other hand, fret till the new moon and the sabbath are over. For these days forbid all work; they mean, then, less money for the tramplers.
So, those who are not just do keep the holy days. And that is why Amos speak out against them; they feign worship and they blaspheme. The hands they lift up in prayer are not holy.
It is clear, yes, that those whom Amos decries serve money more than God. Money has taken God’s place in their lives. And they will get it by hook or by crook.
But Jesus shows us the true religion, the same one that James spells out. James says that the religion that is pure before God, the Father, “is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and not to be dirtied by the world.”
No, we cannot break up Jesus’ love for the Father and his love for the neighbor (SV.EN VI:413). For Jesus is right on the mark in his grasp of the text: “There will always be poor in the land; open your hand, then, to the poor and needy.” He does not skip a text that goes before: “There will be no poor among you, for the Lord will bless you with plenty” (see J. Freund).
You cannot serve God and money.
For this world and its children are all about money, power and control. Still, due to their greed and ambition, they quarrel, even kill and wage war.
Indeed, our too much craving for money, power and control leads in the end to ruin. That is to say, the horn, the power, that saves us does not lie in the calf of gold. Money, power and control are no more than idols that we mold out of our cravings.
The horn, the power, that saves us is Jesus, whom God has raised up. And, yes, our Savior calls money “mammon,” wicked. It is not so due to the wicked way it may have been earned, though this true of those Amos decries. It is always wicked insofar as it takes us away from God and the neighbor.
And Jesus’ warning to the wealthy is a a call to be his disciples. To be and live as he; he lives for God, not for money. Pope Francis puts it thus: It is not power, success and money that prevail, but rather service, humility and love. Yes, blessed are the poor.
But those who are rich are not a lost cause. For they can “wash” their money clean if they share it with the those who are poor. The wealthy, then, will be the Father’s friends; he will welcome them into eternal dwellings.
Lord Jesus, grant that we be honest and trustworthy in little things, like money. We will thus be honest and trustworthy in big things, like those that have to do with heaven.
18 September 2022
25th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Am 8, 4-7; 1 Tim 2, 1-8; Lk 16, 1-13