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Fr. Tim’s Homily for September 18th, 2016

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time-C

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Amos 8  4-7

1 Timothy 2: 1-8

Luke 16: 1-13

 

A tailor was working on a new suit for a mob boss.  He accidentally slipped with the scissors and cut a hole in the knee of the trousers.  And that was the last of that fabric in the shop.  So what could he do?

He proceeded to cut a slit in the other knee and then mended both of them with a fancy set of stitches that looked like the wings of a bird.

The gangster came in to collect his new suit and was quite surprised by what he saw.  The tailor said, “This is the latest style that is just emerging in Europe.  You will be a fashion leader right here.”  And then all of the assistant tailors stepped out of their work stations, displaying bird wings that were stitched on their trouser knees.

Did the head tailor lie to the gangster?  Yes.  Was it an imaginative solution?  Yes.  Did his lie hurt anyone?  No, and it probably saved someone from getting seriously hurt.  But it was a lie nonetheless.

What are we to learn from the parable that Jesus just told us about the dishonest steward?  Why did Jesus seem to make a hero out of him?

Jesus was not praising the devious steward for his dishonesty.  The steward had rationalized his poor behavior as people still do today:  “My boss has lots of money.  He drives a Mercedes and always flies first class.  I do bring in a lot of business to this company and my boss gets the lion’s share of the profits.  I am just taking some of what should really be mine.”  And so the rationalization goes.

I read about neighbors talking after a severe storm had occurred.  One asks, “What are you going to claim with the insurance company?”

“Nothing,” the other replies.  “Fortunately I don’t have any damage.”

To which the first neighbor says, “Are you crazy?  Claim something.  After all, you have been paying the premiums all these years.”

Many people have grown numb to ethics and honesty.  They believe that “the end justifies the means” and that rationalization is the way to accomplish this.

In this parable, Jesus is not commending the devious steward for his dishonesty.  Rather, he is praising him for his drive and ingenuity.  The fellow did not just sit back and feel sorry for himself.  No, he used his imagination and devised a grand plan.

And, by way of contrast, Jesus says, “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

So, get busy!  Use your drive and ingenuity as “children of light” to be serious about your life as a follower of Jesus, and to do what is good – in a great way!

There was a story in “The Saturday Evening Post” some time ago.  It was about a church where the sermon had been overly long.  At the last verse of the final hymn, the people stampeded out … all except for Abigail.  She had been quite taken with what she had heard that day and so she stayed behind to reflect – and Abigail got trampled by the rest of the congregation.

The attorney for the church ran this argument:  “The church is a not-for-profit organization, made up largely of volunteers.  We can’t expect the church to run with the same efficiency as a business.”

That argument got to me:  “The church is a not-for-profit organization, made up largely of volunteers.  We can’t expect the church to run with the same efficiency as a business.”

We can’t?  Look at what McDonalds does so well:  advertising burgers and fries and other fast foods.  And look what we have been entrusted with by God:  the Gospel of Jesus Christ, His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, forgiveness for our sins, the opportunity to live forever with God in heaven.  Shouldn’t we as a Church expend at least as much drive and ingenuity – as much time, talent and treasure – as does McDonald’s?

When you leave church today after the last line of the final hymn, I hope that you will not stampede!  But I also hope that you will carry two questions in your heart to consider:  as a grateful steward of God’s bountiful blessings, what is my ministry in my parish family?  And, as a disciple of Jesus, am I living my Christian life seriously with drive and ingenuity?

I hope that the answer is an energetic affirmative.  For we are graced and blessed to be “children of light.”