Greetings on this the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Am 8:4-7; Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8; 1 Tm 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Notes: An Inflection point (in business) is a time of significant change in a situation; a turning point.
Using a Jewish wisdom term, for today we’ll use the peshat meaning, the plain meaning.
There are other spiritual meanings in today’s gospel portion. And certainly to be noted and reflected upon. Today I will focus on the Inflection Point.
In the first reading, Amos’s message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. He boldly indicts kings, priests, and leaders (NABRE, Amos Introduction).
He makes the inventory of offenses:
- Want the sell and market during holy days.
- Short fill the ephah when selling (a bushel).
- Increase prices because you can for no other reason.
- Set the weigh scale for cheating.
- Buy humans as slaves for silver.
- Even buy the poorest humans for a pair of sandals.
- Sell the harvest chaff (waste) for profit as if wheat.
How do we respond?
Do we change? Do we follow these and threaten Amos’ life or to deaden the conscience and ignore the warnings?
To Amos, Amaziah said: “Off with you, seer, flee to the land of Judah and there earn your bread by prophesying! But never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” (Amos 7, 12-13)
In the second reading, Paul’s message states the most important things we can do.
Make supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority.
It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
Why? Because we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all sinners. And the list Amos provided today, which having specific application, also applies to all of us in one form or another. Adjust behavior accordingly.
How do we respond?
- Lead a quiet and tranquil life (be humble in your judgments).
- Be devoted.
- Be dignified.
- Remember, the divine intention is all to come to salvation.
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward ho 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.’
In the peshat meaning, the plain sense of it, the steward has been accused of cheating his master and stealing from his estate. He did so in ways not distant from the list Amos provided us today.
Having been so discovered the steward has reached an inflection point.
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
At the Inflection Point he made this decision. To call together all those he had already cheated with and DOUBLED DOWN on his infractions. He knew who he cheated with already. He knew he could count on them to do it again.
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
What does this mean? In the plain sense it means this: the correct response to an accusation is to take account of the things you have done, weigh them properly and determine if these things are true or false. Then you enter the inflection point. What to do next?
What did he do?
- Made a list of everyone who cheated with him.
- Offered to cheat with them again.
- Falsified documents.
- Hid as much evidence as possible, if covering his tracks well enough, would make immune from prosecution of the steward and his co-conspirators.
- Made side deals which would make him secure in his 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.”
How do we respond?
The third conclusion is a general statement about the incompatibility of serving God and being a slave to riches. To be dependent upon wealth is opposed to the teachings of Jesus who counseled complete dependence on the Father as one of the characteristics of the Christian disciple (Lk 12:22–39). God and mammon: see note on Lk 16:9. Mammon is used here as if it were itself a god. ((NABRE note, Luke 16:13).
Don’t double down.
Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!
This is the Inflection Point.
Having been called out for the offenses, Amos reminds there are consequences for these actions which include personal loss and national disgrace.
It appears from the literary style provided that the people did not listen.
Each person and every nation must take account of its behaviors and especially the list provided by Amos. Social sin, what Amos is deriding, is a serious matter of the person and society.
Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
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.
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 savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
A nice reflection: https://www.fatherduffy.com/i-say-to-you/
In business, I have met many people like this unfaithful steward. Jesus’ picked a great example. Don’t make money your god.
Peace be with you,