Amos 8:4-7, Psalm 113:1-2,4-6,7-8, 1Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13
We should cease being surprised by scripture. Today’s readings challenge us to look honestly at our way of life, our attitude to others, our concepts of justice and mercy, our priorities, and could not be more topical.
Amos really spells it out, and there are parallels everywhere in today’s life of commerce and banking. Yes, each of us might truthfully say that we are not guilty of his precise accusations, or the modern parallels, but what are we doing about those who are? St Paul writing to Timothy may give us the first suggestion: “there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority” We can certainly do that, but do we? Perhaps we think that praying for politicians is a waste of time, and certainly some push us to the edge of despair. We must remember that no-one is past redemption, not even those who in recent months and years have been a source of scandal.
In these days of instant communication do we respond positively to requests to sign letters to our politicians, where the number of signatures is effective in having issues raised in parliament? We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We must allow ourselves to be aware of the global nature of the cost of living crisis, the choices between heating and eating being made by too many of those around us, the domino effect of the war in Ukraine and other parts of the world, of climate change, of lack of care for the earth. Never before has John Donne’s poem seemed so apt: “No man is an island, Entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod is washed away by the sea, Europe is the less….Any man’s death diminishes me, Because I am involved in mankind…”
In the gospel, the unjust steward has his answer to his own cost of living crisis, but not exactly one to be recommended. In our less charitable moments it might remind us of some of the financial crises over the past ten or twenty years, and the actions of those who should know better.
There is nothing cosy about these readings today, unlike the previous chapter in St Luke, where we read about the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son, responses of welcome, relief and love encouraging and warming us. But we can look today to the responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord who raises the poor, and the Gospel acclamation: Jesus Christ was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. And we must never forget, in Gerard Manley Hopkins’ words: “Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! Bright wings.”
Lucina Montague, OP