25th Ordinary Sunday, Year C.
(Amos 8:4-7 / 1 Tim 2:1-8 / Luke 16:1-13)
One of the health issues affecting the world today is the HIV. Many people can show symptoms when they are bodly sick. But here let us ask ourselves if spiritual sickness has symptoms. We are able to detect the signs that indicates one has health problems, but do we know what are the signs that indicate that a church has a spiritual problem?
That could be rather difficult to answer and not that comfortable to address, especially when we see that the Sunday Masses have good attendance, there is a priest to celebrate Mass, people are singing (or at least they lip-sync). So what signs of a spiritual problem are we talking about?
There can be many signs of a spiritual problem or what is going wrong with a church. Some examples are these:
There is too much politicking in the church. Those who serve in ministries are snobbish and proud. Nothing changes for the better; in fact, things are deteriorating. The leadership has no vision or mission. The preaching is poor and uninspiring. The church is always asking for money.
If the above sounds familiar when we think about our parish, then our parish has a spiritual problem, and something is wrong.
In the gospel, Jesus gave just one indication of what is going wrong not just with a church, but it is also for an individual, for a group, for an organization, and even for a nation.
And that indication is what is often called “the root of all evil”. It is none other than the love or the obsession with money and worldly riches.
Jesus gave this teaching which is often not heeded: No servant can be the slave of two masters. He will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.
Jesus goes on to say: The man who can be trusted with little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches?
This teaching of Jesus reminds us that having money is not a sin. We use it for daily necessities and to get on in life.
But it is the love and obsession for money that will separate us from God and from loving Him alone.
Certainly, as a church, money is just that little thing that we can be trusted with and should be trusted with.
But as a church, Jesus has entrusted us with something much greater; in fact a genuine treasure.
Let’s go back to what are the signs that a church has a spiritual problem or that there is something wrong.
One of those signs is when we begin to settle for the natural rather than believe in the supernatural.
We begin to look for solutions to problems using human logic and rationale instead of looking into the Scriptures for directions and motivation.
And as we look at the 2nd reading, St. Paul tells Timothy this: My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving.
And that is the genuine treasure that Jesus has entrusted us with – the power of prayer – prayer that is expressed in petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving, offered for everyone.
And as the Lord God said in the 1st reading: Never will I forget a single thing you have done.
By the same token, Jesus will also never forget a single prayer that is offered, especially to His Sacred Heart.
With the power of prayer, we will be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet.
With the power of prayer, we will able to face our problems, as well as the problems in the church and the problems in the world.
The sicknesses will come and go, crises will come and go, money will come and go, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8).
And He will not forget the petitions that we offered to Him, petitions that will be answered so that we will have a greater love and devotion to Him, and that we carry out the mission of salvation because He wants all to be saved.
So let us always lift up our hearts reverently in prayer. Jesus has entrusted us with this genuine treasure of the power of prayer. Let us be faithful to it.
St. Theresa of Losieux, pray for us.
(Adapted from Fr. Stephen Yim)