Saturday, November 05, 2011

God Knows Your Heart

November 5. 2011

Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Now to him who can strengthen you,
according to my Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 16:25-27

"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 God and mammon."
Luke 16:11-13


Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness?
Do you think that it could?
I think you will find
When death takes it toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul. (Bob Dylan)


Sometimes I love Bible commentary. Other times it makes me scream. Today's conclusion from Paul's letter to the Romans is noted by some as the conclusion of chapter 14, 15 and or 16 of this epistle. So what?

Whether it comes at the end of any of these chapters or none, it is a doxology of great eloquence. Wouldn't it be great if we ended all of our correspondence in similar fashion? "See you later," just doesn't cut it next to Paul's closing statement.

St. Paul concludes by telling us that this letter and the life and proclamations of Jesus reveal "the mystery kept secret for long ages." That mystery is the salvation and redemption story. Until the unwed teenage mother in Nazareth gave birth, until that baby grew into adulthood, until that man ticked off the temple leaders and Roman occupiers, until his state-sponsored execution and capital punishment for a crime he did not commit, and until he bore our sins on his lonely bleeding back, we have no clue of how we would be saved from our own sinful nature. Amen.


What do we do with our time, talent and treasure? Today's Gospel gives us the familiar story that we cannot serve two masters -- God and money. Yet, how much do we worry about the money? Since the financial crisis hit us starting in 2008, people have lost much of what that they had saved for retirement.

Today, the macro economy cannot seem to get traction. Unemployment remains high -- at or above 9 percent. As individuals, our micro-economy attempts to protect ourselves are hard to accomplish because we cannot be insulated or isolated from what is around us. Maybe we try to do too much. Maybe we try to be too laissez-faire.

In light of it all, Jesus would probably speak to us much as he did to the Pharisees who were lengthening their phylacteries. We cannot serve God and money. It is interesting to consider whether the Jesus we encounter in today's Gospel would be among the crowds camped out to Occupy Wall Street or K Street or the Port of Oakland.

Jesus' attitude toward money reminds us that Advent will begin in three more weeks. The season of preparation for the coming of the Savior is another gift that comes to us all -- no matter what the balance is in our 401K plan or what kind of car sits in our driveway. There can be six or sixty shopping days until Christmas. No matter how much debt you ring up on your credit cards, the King of Kings will be here as the Son comes again on December 25.

No matter how cold the winter, the gift of spring is just around the corner. There is nothing that we can do to make it come any slower or any faster.

Whether you share the view expressed by Bob Dylan above or that of Jeff Buckley in "Satisfied Mind," it's not the money, but it is our attitude about the money that may hinder your path to piety. Buckley reminds us:

Money can’t buy back all your youth when you’re old
A friend when you’re lonely, or peace for your soul
The wealthiest person is a pauper at times
Compared to the man with a satisfied mind

Pope John Paul II stressed that “even the decision to invest in one place rather than another…is always a moral and cultural choice.” Now, with the words of Jesus passed on by St. Luke fresh in our minds, may be the perfect time to assess aligning whatever retirement saving you have (or hope to have) with the principles of the Catholic faith and social teaching. You can get information at a number of places such as, and other sites.