Homily for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
Christ wants our best efforts
It sounds strange to hear our Blessed Lord praising the steward in the parable in today’s Gospel for being so sly. But that is only because we don’t know our Lord as well as we ought.
Jesus’s point is simple. He says,
For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
The steward knew that his time of employment was coming to an end. Before his last day arrives, he uses his connections and position to prepare for the future. He was smart. The Greek word translated into the English “prudent” can also be translated as “astute”. Jesus is saying that it is a good quality to have. We are supposed to be creative and ingenious in life.
But, he reprimands his followers for not applying that same astuteness to the more important project of preparing for eternal life.
We are all like that steward. We all know that our lives will come to an end, sooner or later. We know that as a fact. Yet, are we effectively using our resources and opportunities to prepare for what will come next?
That is the question that is asked of us by today’s Gospel. Are we building God’s Kingdom now, so we can be able to enjoy it forever later?
Many great men and women of the world, – chief executives, athletes, film stars, political leaders – are exemplary in their tenacity, determination, and astuteness. They set a goal and let nothing stop them from achieving it. They turn everything into an opportunity to advance their cause. No sacrifice is too great.
Imagine how different the Church (and the world) would be if every Christian pursued holiness that energetically.
St Ida’s life-giving coffin
Sometimes we are irresponsible stewards of God’s creation because we forget what is really at stake. We become seduced by the day-to-day problems and pleasures of this life and forget that it is passing. It is only a warm-up for eternal life.
St Ida of Herzfeld learnt this lesson well. St Ida was Charlemagne’s granddaughter, and she grew up in his Imperial Court in Germany in the ninth century. The lessons of the Christian faith took deep root in her soul during those early years, unlike many of her relatives and fellow courtiers.
Eventually St Ida was given a handsome dowry and she married a popular and Christian Duke with whom she had one child before she was left a widow. St Ida never remarried. Instead, she dedicated her time and the proceeds from her estate to serve the poor and the Church.
This was somewhat remarkable, especially when you compare it to the way other members of the Imperial Court led their lives. They were surrounded by temptations to power, wealth, and pleasure, and most of them gave in, sooner or later. How was St Ida able to resist?
Well, like the crafty steward in the parable, she used the wits the good God gave her. Every day she would fill up a stone coffin with food. Then she herself would distribute the food to the poor. In this way, at the same time as serving her neighbour, she was reminding herself of her destiny – death. She knew that the glamour of life in the palace could easily blind her to the truly important things of life. So, like a wise steward, she did that which she had to do to make sure she kept her eyes wide open.
If her tactics strikes us today as strange instead of astute, it may mean that the glamour of life in our modern world is starting to dim our vision.
Making a prayer-improvement plan
One area where each one of us can always use some renewed energy and astuteness is in our prayer life. We simply cannot grow as Christians unless our prayer life is constantly growing. Yet, most of us will recognise a lot of room for improvement in this area.
Each of us faces unique challenges and opportunities in this area, we have to work our own formulae for growth. Please do not think that the clergy are immune from faults in our prayer life. We most certainly are not. However, when we put in renewed effort, two qualities which are common to every healthy prayer life should be borne in mind.
First of all, prayer needs to be regular. We need to pray daily, to have a daily quiet time when we can speak to God and the Saints, to pray for our loved ones, reflect on the scriptures, or read some good, solid spiritual book. That means carving out time. We don’t need to have a lot of time – ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night is a good start – but it does have to be consistent and that means self-discipline.
I have heard of one priest who goest to the cemetery to pray his Rosary each day. If he doesn’t go there, he knows that he will have a barrage of phone calls and requests that will stop him saying it.
Secondly, prayer needs to be sincere. We actually have to speak to God in our hearts. Going through the motions, and just rattling off prayers, is not enough. We need to find that way of praying that will allow God’s grace to touch the core of who we are.
Today, Our Blessed Lord is reminding us that He wants us all to be wise stewards, giving Him and His Kingdom our best efforts, so that He can give us the greatest reward. As we come to Him at the Altar today and each day this week, let us tell Him that we want the same thing.
- Amos 8:4-7
- Psalms 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
- First Timothy 2:1-8
- Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13
- Read them online »
Notices for the week
From Wednesday of this week, Mgr Michael will be visiting His Grace the Archbishop in Bedford until next Sunday. There will, therefore, be no Mass in Belfast on these days.
Feast Days this week:
- Monday 23 September, St Eunan, Patron of Raphoe, Bishop and Confessor
- Tuesday 24 September, OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM, PATRON OF THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH
- Wednesday 25 September, Octave of OLW
- Thursday 26 September, Octave of OLW
- Friday 27 September, SS Cosmas and Damian & Octave of OLW
- Saturday 28 September, Octave of OLW
Our Lady of Walsingham
On Monday evening, there will be First Vespers of the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, who is the Patron of the National Catholic Church. Within our Calendar, we celebrate this first class feast complete with an octave. Therefore, with the exception of the days noted above, each day both the Office and Mass will be of the Feast.
Next Sunday is the celebration of the Feast Day of St Michael the Archangel for as the Martyrology explains:
On Mount Gargano, the commemoration of the blessed Archangel Michael. This festival is kept in memory of the day, when under his invocation, was consecrated a church, unpretending in its exterior, but endowed with virtue celestial.
Mass will be celebrated as normal, please contact the Parish Priest for details.