Am I a Coherent Christian?
The Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time.
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost.*
11:32 AM 9/22/2019 — An odd assortment of lessons from Sacred Scripture punctuate the Holy Sacrifice today. The Prophet Amos thunders against the exploitation of the poor by ruthless profiteering merchants who despise the needy and make money off them; tampering with the scales and selling them defective goods, raising prices by taking advantage of shortages. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is some kind of Biblical condemnation of Capitalism, since, in our Gospel lesson, Capitalism is very much the hero. Our Lord tells us the parable of the unjust steward who is forced to give an accounting of his services. Afraid that his duplicity is about to be exposed, he engages in an almost reckless gamble, taking it upon himself to reduce the debt owed to his master by the creditors in the hope that one of them might hire him should his own master fire him; and, our Blessed Lord, perhaps with a tinge of sadness, appends the story with the statement:
It sounds confusing. Is our Lord praising the steward or condemning him? It’s a good occasion for us to examine how the parable, as used by our Lord, is a particular Middle Eastern form of teaching which, for one reason or another, has a hard time penetrating our literal, Western minds. One good way to look at a parable is to consider it to be a sort of verbal icon.
We are well accustomed to seeing people make unbelievable sacrifices to improve their life-style or standard of living. At times we may be taken aback by the lengths some people will go to acquire more wealth, more power, more fame. The media frequently—almost constantly—trains a spotlight on our society’s most ambitious people and their so-called accomplishments; but, are any of these people thinking of salvation? What would happen if these very same people were to put the same amount of zeal into the purification of their souls in anticipation of their final judgment? For one thing, they wouldn’t be on TV or the covers of magazines, and we probably would never have heard of them.
I particularly like the last sentence of that quote from his book called quite simply, The Way. Even our apostolic works, even what we choose to do for the poor and the needy or the betterment of this earthly realm is made fruitful by the pursuit of personal holiness. No one ever went to heaven solely because of what he did for his fellow man; he went to heaven because what he did for his fellow man he did because he had already become a saint, and would have gone to heaven even if he had locked himself up in a monastery and done nothing pray. In fact, a lot of people go to heaven that very way.
We have only one Lord. We must serve Him with all our heart, with the natural gifts He Himself has given us, using every licit means throughout our lives to ensure both our own salvation and that of those we encounter along the way. The coherent Christian does not devote one part of his attention to God and another to the affairs of this world; he must convert both into the service of God and neighbor, contributing to the sanctification of the world primarily by sanctifying himself.