Sunday, September 22, 2013

“All knowledge is sterile which does not lead to action and end in charity.”

“Remember that when you leave this earth, you take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have been given: A full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.” – St. Francis of Assisi

Gospel Text: (LK 16:1-13)
Jesus said to his disciples,
“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
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 both God and mammon.”

After reading today’s gospel, I am reminded of the poignant scene in the 1972 Film, the Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Perhaps some of you remember it as well as I do, especially those who are a bit older. It visually revealed the great danger we all face, what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council warned of as a "separation between faith and life"

Al Pacino, who plays the leader of the Mob, Michael Cordileone, is standing as a godfather for his sister's child in Baptism. During the baptism, the godparents must respond to questions such as "Do you reject the glamour of evil?" and "Do you reject Satan and all his works?" by saying "I do."
As the Baptism is unfolding on the screen, men under his direction as the "godfather" of the mob are carrying out a killing spree of rival gangsters, at his specific direction. The two are juxtaposed in a profound way, sending a message to any who have eyes to see.

Michael's "I do's" and denouncement of Satan, cement his position as godfather to Connie's baby in appearance. However, the murders he ordered reveal an absolute disconnect, a separation, as he acts as a "godfather" of an entirely different sort, a profane and evil counterfeit which uncovers the complete separation between his faith and his life.

That scene depicts a dramatic example of the separation between faith and life. In most of our lives, the separation is played out in more subtle ways. For example, in how we conduct our business. How often do you hear as an excuse for a Christian who does not inform their business practice with the principles derived from faith, the excuse - "that's business".

Our Gospel passage makes it clear; the goods of this earth are given to everyone of us as stewards. God alone is to be served and loved with all of our heart. We are called to receive all of these goods, no matter what they are, as a gift and direct them toward what is good and true. We are stewards and the parable of the unjust steward is addressed to each one of us today. We need to listen.

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