25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C
By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh
Readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
Theme: Hear This…
Israel in the 8th century BC was very much like Nigeria of the 20th century AD. Material prosperity was on the increase, except that not everyone was prospering. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. The bad side of this prosperity for the rich was that they were getting richer at the expense of the poor. Social injustice and oppression of the poor was so high. This was the kind of situation God called Prophet Amos to denounce.
What Amos condemned in his days, we see same and even worse happening in our day. The people of Amos’ day were too impatient to wait for the Sabbath to pass so that they can go on committing their sins in pursuit of wealth. Even today, some people cannot wait for Sunday to pass, for Monday to come so that they can go back to their evil. However, in our society today, the word of God through the Prophet Amos is not only addressed to the rich but to everybody alike. For some people, Sunday is the only day they take a break from sin. Their lifestyle seems to say “Sunday is for God, weekdays are for me.” If you are such a person, do not forget that God is the owner of Monday to Sunday. Some people have even become so bold in sin that they have no regards for God again. Even Sunday is a day for the sinful business.
Very importantly, God says through Prophet Amos: “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds”” (Amos 8:7). In other words, God is watching and taking notes of the evils we do today, like it was done in the days of Amos, and he says he will never forget. God condemned the shady things people did in the days of Prophet Amos to make money; he is today also, condemning the many evils we do for the sake of money. Hear this, child of God: God, who is Almighty and unpredictable says he is watching and he will never forget.
- Some people today sell fake products to unsuspecting customers. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- There are people who inflate the prices of goods simply because the consumers have no alternative. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- Some of you carry young boys or girls to serve you for some years, and when it is time to settle them, you start accusing them of things they did not do so that you won’t settle them; or you give them something that cannot even rent a shop, not to talk of starting a business. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- Some of you employ people and overwork them, but when it comes to payment, you either owe them their salaries or you underpay them. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- If you are a landlord and all you know how to do is increase your rent without increasing the quality of your house, making life extra difficult for your tenants, hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- If someone leaves you in charge of his/her business to manage and you run it down out of wickedness and/or recklessness, hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- There are some of you who are employees of people, you do very little work, but you expect to be paid a normal wage, hear this: the Almighty unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
- Your boss or your office sends you to buy something. You buy it at one price and write a higher price on the receipt you submit to the office; hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
Child of God, God says to us that he is watching all such evils that we do and he will never forget. You may want to ask: And what will God do if he does not forget? He provides an answer to that question through the Prophet Jeremiah where he says, “Disaster shall fall upon the man who builds his house by injustice and grows rich by dishonesty, who make people work for him for nothing and does not pay them for their labour (Jer 22:13). Again, God says “The person who gets money dishonestly is like a bird that hatches eggs it did not lay. In the prime of his life, he will lose his riches and in the end, he is nothing but a fool” (Jer 17:11).
Jesus tells us in the gospel of today’s Mass that one day, God shall ask us to render an account to him of all that we have been doing. And the master said to his servant: “What is this that I hear about you? Turn me an account of your stewardship, for you shall no longer be steward” (Lk 16:2). But God shall say to us: “Render me an account of the stewardship of your life, for you shall no longer be alive.” When that day comes, what kind of account will you give to God? Now that we have the time to prepare our account book, how are we going about it?
In the parable of the shrewd servant in the gospel, Jesus was not praising the servant for being dishonest, but he sets that parable as a lesson for us on foresight, using our now to plan for our future. Many people who do the evils we have condemned today will tell you that they are making money to plan for their future; a future that will end? Jesus says we should rather use such wisdom to plan for our eternal future that will not end. Hear this, child of God! Whatever you are doing today, God says that he is watching, that he will never forget, and that one day, he shall ask you to give him an account of your life. So start arranging your account book today, for tomorrow may be too late.
Some of you may be saying in your mind: But why is Father preaching and presenting God in such a manner? God is loving and merciful and not a hostile and sadistic judge.” If that is your thought, you are very correct. Last week’s gospel reading dwelt on the mercy of God. But just so that we do not get carried away and fall into the error of taking God’s mercy for granted, this week, the church is drawing our attention to the justice of God. We must never forget that the mercy of God does not in any way negate his justice. As much as God is merciful, God is also just. So, child of God, today, as we reflect on the justice of God, I must also say to you that whoever repents of his sins, God has promised, in his love and mercy, to forgive. Let us therefore not persist in wrongdoing; let us rather turn from our sins and live (cf. Ezk 33:11). May God grant us the courage to run away from evil and all forms of injustice. Amen.