21st/22nd September 2019

posted 23 Sept 2019, 04:26 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

(21 & 22/9/19)


Appropriate use of money:  money is supposed to be a tool, rather than an end in itself.  It’s a practical resource.  It’s not supposed to take the place of God.  But money does enable things to happen, and lack of it means things can’t happen.  The world is unstable – one moment boom, the next moment bust.  We don’t know how much our money will be worth in ten years’ time.  So what do we do?  Spend it all now, or cut back even on bare necessities so that we might have something left in ten years’ time?  The Christian approach is always one of appropriate balance, and trust in the providence of God.  There are things in life that are more important than money.


We read in Genesis that God gave the whole world to the whole of humanity.  If everything belongs to everyone in the earth, then why have we divided it up, and now some have more than they need, whilst others have practically nothing?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides a bit of enlightenment here (paras 2402-2407).  You’ll be relieved to know that, as Catholics, we do believe in the right to private property, because it helps to guarantee safety and security by having your own patch of land, and a place to call home.  There is, of course, the saying that good fences make for good neighbours.  In some ways, Christ lived something of a homeless existence, going from place to place, relying on people’s generosity in finding somewhere to stay for the night.  Perhaps on occasions He and the disciples did have to sleep in fields, or by the side of the road.  But He never said that that is how all of His followers were supposed to live.


So we’ve got a few things to take into consideration here:  firstly, the human race has been given the earth by God to look after; secondly, we are allowed to call certain property our own and have a place to call home; and thirdly, we have the issue of the poor and how to care for them.  How do we put these together?


The right to private property does not absolve us from care for our fellow human beings.  In Old Testament times, there was no benefit system as we have it today.  But if you look carefully, there are various points where a form of social security was built into the Old Testament, and to have this understanding enlightens our understanding of the New Testament.  So, one of the things that is stipulated is that when you reach harvest-time, yes, you can harvest your crops, but don’t go back a second time to collect all the grapes or corn etc. that you missed.  Leave that for the poor, the orphan, the widow and the traveller.  That’s why, when one on occasion, Christ and His disciples are walking through the cornfields, they start helping themselves to the ears of corn.  It wasn’t stealing.  The Law of Moses said that some of your crops had to be available for those in need.  We can see the same thing is true with our money and possessions today.  I’m not saying that we should leave money and our other items outside for people to help themselves, but part of “love thy neighbour” includes giving to those in need.  Charity begins at home, but that’s where it begins, not where it ends.  The bank of mom and dad needs to be kept afloat in order to provide the occasional loan to the children, but it can also make the occasional transfer to those in need as well.


So we’ve got the fact that the whole earth has been given to everyone in the human race, the right to private property and the need to help the poor.  But there’s also another important issue that runs through today’s Gospel and first reading, and that’s the matter of honesty.  Dishonesty and corruption are responsible for so much misery in the world, particularly in certain countries where the use of a bribe is necessary to get anything done.  But, as we know, this country isn’t perfect either.  People lending things and never returning them; the paying of unjust wages, perhaps with complicated systems so that you can’t really work out what is going on; people being ripped off; shoddy workmanship; tax evasion; forgery of cheques and invoices; excessive expenses and waste; promises broken and contracts wiggled out of.  These are times when people value money more highly than their trust in God; they would rather dent their moral character as long as they get a bit more money out of it.  “The man who can be trusted in little things will be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great.”  How to redeem things?  We are not obliged to give to crooks, or line the pockets of the dishonest.  We are allowed to defend ourselves against such things, and to give good example in living honestly and fairly, especially when it means that we lose out financially.  Some things are more important than money.  Money isn’t supposed to take the place of God.  On the reverse of dollar notes it says “In God we trust”.  That needs to be the true God, not the false god of money.