Sorry for posting this a day late. For an unknown reason, my phone (thus DSL) line was down yesterday. The phone company could not get fix the line until today. Again, I apologize even though I was unable to control the situation.
Next weekend, I will be in Chicago for a conference of justice and peace in God’s creation. I pray I learn much to bring back and share. Please keep me in your prayers. For this reason, my posting next Sunday will probably be late, but WILL be posted.
Today in Catholic History:
† 11/08/392 AD – Emperor Theodosius declares the Catholic religion the state religion.
† 04/11/1829 – English Emancipation Act grants freedom of religion to Catholics.
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
The price of greatness is responsibility. ~ Winston Churchill
Today’s reflection is about Jesus telling a parable about a dishonest steward who is commended for his prudence; one cannot serve both God and money.
1 Then he also said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. 2 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.’ 3 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. 4 I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ 5 He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 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.’ 7 Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ 8 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. 9 I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 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. 11 If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? 12 If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? 13 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 16:1-13)
The parable of the dishonest steward has to be understood in the light of the Palestinian cultures custom of the time for an owner’s steward’s duty. They acted on behalf of their master’s business transactions, and had frequently practiced charging exorbitant rates of interest in lending money – the Biblical “Payday Loan” organization. This unscrupulous person gained a lot from other people’s earthy materialism, and at their expense.
The “dishonest” steward decides to give up his own exaggerated profit on the business transaction by having the debtors write new notes which reflected only the real amount owed the master. The dishonest steward acts in this way only in order to curry (suck up to) favor with the debtors because he knows he has lost his job. The parable then teaches the prudent and sensible use of material goods in light of a possible imminent crisis.
Today’s Gospel sounds puzzling to present-day readers, but is made less so by remembering the economic system for that time period. The steward is dismissed because he is squandering his master’s property. He is called “dishonest” only because he is not serving the interests of his employer (the master), “rich man.” In response to this dismissal, the steward, in an attempt to guarantee favor for himself among the rich man’s debtors, negotiates repayment of his master’s loans by foregoing the interest and fees that had been levied originally, (and used to fill the steward’s purse). It is in performing this specific action that the steward puts aside his own greedy ways and takes the longer road, and revealing a more mature perspective of responsibility, in order to enhance his security. This is what the master ultimately commends to his “conniving” steward!
So, we are presented with three conclusions based on how we may deal with each other. The first tells of the trustworthy person (the master), something I am sure we all what to be known as being. We should all strive for the good practice and virtue of being considered fair and above board in all dealings: personal, business, and in our faith life. Listeners need to be prudent about the use of wealth available to them. Unlike the steward in the parable, those who follow Jesus must put temporal affairs in proper perspective. Christians should handle our earthly life affairs with an eye toward the light of the coming of the end of the age and eternal life.
The second conclusion is that constant loyalty and faithfulness are necessary to those in positions of responsibility. Trustworthiness is a key virtue needed not only in our eternal life of faith, but also in our daily human responsibilities. Those who can be trusted in small things can also be trusted in great things. If Christians handle money and other cursory things responsibly, then they can also be trusted with the affairs of the Kingdom of God.
Finally, the third conclusion is a warning about trying to serve two masters. Jesus declares simply: “It can’t be done!!” This is a powerful statement about the total incompatibility of serving God while being controlled or led by the materialistic value of personal gain at the expense of others. To be so wrapped up and interested in gaining wealth is in gross opposition to the teachings of Jesus. Throughout Holy Scripture, Jesus regularly and explicitly (Mt 6:9-13) advocated a complete dependence on God the Father as one of the basic characteristics for one of His disciples. Jesus tells His listeners that no one can serve two masters simultaneously. God must be put ahead of money and other earthly affairs and priorities.
Again, today’s Gospel is yet another example of a parable taught by Jesus illustrating His attitude toward the rich and the poor. Jesus loves us all: but He also wants us to love each other as well. I believe it is fine to have large amounts of wealth as long as God is first in your life (God makes that happen for some). This means you must not only love Him, but also you must love the poor, the ill, the imprisoned, and so on. Do you help the weak and maligned to the capabilities that God has given you? We all have a “grace” to help those in need – regardless of our own materialistic wealth! (THIS IS REALLY TRUE!!)
There are several words and phrases which are confusing for many of us: words we all probably have never heard before. Please let me try to explain these words and phrases.
In verse 6, “one hundred measures” literally means, “one hundred baths.” A “bath” is a Hebrew unit of liquid measurement equivalent to eight or nine gallons. So, the steward is calling for the repayment ultimately of about 400 gallons of olive oil instead of the original 800 gallons. That is a lot of spaghetti! (It is also a 100% profit for the steward!)
In verse 7, one hundred “kors” in Hebrew is their unit of dry measure for grain or wheat equivalent to ten or twelve bushels. Again, the steward calls for a pay back of only about 880 bushels of wheat, instead of the originally promised 1100 bushels. Man that is some major bread. (That is about a 20% profit.)
Verse 9 has three items to explain: “Dishonest wealth” literally translates to “mammon of vice;” “Mammon” is the Greek transliteration of a Hebrew or Aramaic word usually explained as meaning “that in which one trusts;” the depiction of this mammon as “dishonest” reveals a tendency for this type of wealth as leading to dishonesty.
“Mammon” is also used in verse 13: “You cannot serve God and mammon.” In this case, mammon still means “wealth” or “riches.” It is used as a representation of “the god” of riches as one’s top priority or value. “Mammon” is used in this verse by Jesus to indicate that wealth can be for many people “a god.”
Finally, the last words of verse 9 are “Eternal dwellings.” Eternal dwellings, eternal tents, and such other similar places simply refer to heaven; the eternal paradise with God.
Our children want to be recognized by their parents and their peers. They expect good deeds and behaviors to be rewarded; and they know that any wrongdoing on their part could be dealt with by some sort of punishment.
Have you ever talked with others, even your children, about the issues surrounding trust and what it means to be responsible? Responsibility often means that we put aside something of passing or temporal value for something of greater and longer lasting value. Responsible use of money and material possessions is a prime necessity for us all.
Why not commit to one action which you will take this week to show that you serve God and not money; and then let me know what that action is. I will post the results in an upcoming blog, making the actions reported anonymously if you wish. Others, including myself, may learn from your examples. THANKS!!
“Great and Little Things”
“Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in Your name. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Januarius (d. 305?)
Little is known of Januarius’s life. He is believed to have been martyred in the Diocletian persecution of 305. Legend has it that after Januarius was thrown to the bears in the amphitheater of Pozzuoli, he was beheaded, and his blood ultimately brought to Naples.
It is defined Catholic doctrine that miracles can happen and can be recognized—hardly a mind-boggling statement to anyone who believes in God. Problems arise, however, when we must decide whether an occurrence is unexplainable in natural terms, or only unexplained. We do well to avoid an excessive credulity, which may be a sign of insecurity. On the other hand, when even scientists speak about “probabilities” rather than “laws” of nature, it is something less than imaginative for Christians to think that God is too “scientific” to work extraordinary miracles to wake us up to the everyday miracles of sparrows and dandelions, raindrops and snowflakes.
“A dark mass that half fills a hermetically sealed four-inch glass container, and is preserved in a double reliquary in the Naples cathedral as the blood of St. January, liquefies 18 times during the year. This phenomenon goes back to the 14th century. Tradition connects it with a certain Eusebia, who had allegedly collected the blood after the martyrdom. The ceremony accompanying the liquefaction is performed by holding the reliquary close to the altar on which is located what is believed to be the martyr’s head. While the people pray, often tumultuously, the priest turns the reliquary up and down in the full sight of the onlookers until the liquefaction takes place. Various experiments have been applied, but the phenomenon eludes natural explanation. There are, however, similar miraculous claims made for the blood of John the Baptist, Stephen, Pantaleon, Patricia, Nicholas of Tolentino and Aloysius Gonzaga—nearly all in the neighborhood of Naples” (Catholic Encyclopedia).
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 19 & 20 of 26:
19. Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others. Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.
20. The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.