Sep 22 2019 Reflection
Sunday 22 September 2019
First Reading: AM 8:4-7
Praise the Lord who lifts up the poor.
PS 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
Second Reading: 1 TM 2:1-8
Gospel Reading: LK 16:10-13
Today’s Note: Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true 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.”
The children of this world are more prudent. (Luke 16:8)
This is a troubling parable, isn’t it? Why would Jesus make a dishonest servant the hero of the story?
Perhaps some context will help. Jesus had just finished telling the parable of the prodigal son—a story about a father who forgives his son completely and throws a lavish party to celebrate his return (Luke 15:11-32). The father’s extravagance is so outlandish that you would have a hard time finding anyone who acts that way in real life.
But that’s the point. The prodigal son is a parable about God’s extravagant mercy toward us. Now, as a contrast, he tells a story about limited, self-motivated “mercy.” He tells about a disgraced steward who uses shady means to forgive just a portion of the debt some people owe.
That’s a far cry from the prodigal’s father, isn’t it? And Jesus knows it. He knows that forgiveness and mercy are in short supply in this world. But then, in his conclusion to the parable, Jesus says that his followers seem to be unable to match even the so-called “mercy” of this dishonest steward. “The children of this world,” he says, “are more prudent . . . than are the children of light” (Luke 16:8). The steward was indeed prudent in his forgiveness of the debts. But Jesus is looking for something beyond prudence and shrewdness—and he wants to see it come from us. He is looking for true mercy—extravagant mercy that forgives with no strings attached.
Can you rise to Jesus’ challenge? Can you forgive, especially when the other person doesn’t deserve mercy? It isn’t easy, but it is possible. It will come as you keep practicing it and asking for his grace to help you.
Today at Mass, you will receive the highest expression of God’s extravagant mercy: the Body and Blood of Christ, given for you. When you do, let his love flow into you. Let it melt your heart and make you as merciful as he is.
“Lord, teach me to forgive, and to do it extravagantly.”