Ordinary 25th Sunday – WISE OR OTHERWISE?
Ordinary 25th Sunday
Amos 8: 4-7 1Tim. 2: 1-8 Lk. 16: 1-13
WISE OR OTHERWISE?
Placing love and relationship above wealth and money is important for a true Christian life.
Inter-relatedness: Our Very Nature:
It is said about the trees in the forest, where they are very close to each other, that their roots are inter-twined and support each other , though their outer parts (trunks and branches) are different and distinct. It is to say that outwardly they are different, but deep down they are closely inter-related. It is also the very nature of the whole cosmos. Today’s science emphatically points out that beyond the outward distinctive differences, everything is related to everything else.
If it is the case with the cosmos, so it is also with human beings. Beyond all outward differences, deep down we are all inter-related and close-knit. It is the teaching of all religions. Hinduism, for example, says that the primordial Being, Brahman, created the cosmos by dividing Its own Self. It first divided into two. The three-forth became nature. The one-fourth further divided Itself and became men and women. It is a symbolic story which informs us that the whole cosmos is from only one Source and all are inter-related. Once someone asked a Self-realized yogi, “How can I help others?” The yogi immediately retorted, “Which others?” He was trying to communicate that everything is in us and we are in everything. There is nothing called ‘objective other.’
Christianity too affirms that everything in the world comes from one God. St. Paul’s strong affirmative words in the second reading “God is One” point out that all of us have only one source. Paul further says that Jesus is the mediator between God and human beings. We can also say that Jesus is also the mediator (i.e. one who brings together) between human beings themselves, and between human beings and nature. It is to say that Jesus interconnects everything. The Buddhists also have a doctrine of mutual inter-dependence of everything in this universe. A Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has even coined a term for it, ‘inter-being.’
Relationship and Wealth: Rightly Prioritizing:
An ignorant and unaware person gets lost in the outer world, while the person who has gone deeper into oneself and into the cosmic consciousness, is aware of this inter-relatedness. One who is aware of such inter-relatedness is called wise and a jnani. A person of unawareness considers fellow human beings as ‘others’ and perceives them as different from oneself. Such a person won’t be hesitant to exploit others. That was the case of the rich of the Israelites during the time of Amos. In 8th century B.C., the kingdom of Israel was besieged with all sorts of inequalities and injustice. Amos, looking at such a pathetic situation and inspired by God, used very strong words to admonish the rich (the first reading).
Contrary to the rich of the Israel, the steward, in the gospel, was very much aware how much his life was dependent upon others. Jesus does not appreciate him for his dishonesty, but for his readiness to place love and relationship above wealth. (We don’t know for sure whether the steward was dishonest at all. Jesus says that there was an allegation against him. That is all. During the time of Jesus, Palestinian landowners let their lands to persons (i.e. stewards) who, in turn, would subject it out to others, Normally, payment was made to the steward, who then paid the owner his rightful due. Usually, the stewards collected the amount from the debtors – the amount due to the owner & the amount due to themselves. Now in the parable, according to some Biblical scholars, the steward cancelled his own share in the profit and made them friends. In such case, we cannot call the steward dishonest.) While the rich of the Israel placed wealth above love, the steward placed love above wealth. That is why he is considered to be wise. The parable clearly instructs us that it is relationship, not wealth, that would save us. When a person rightly prioritize relationship and wealth, s/he is called to be wise. When one does not know this, s/he becomes otherwise.
Quite often it is unfortunate that we get lost in the secondary things of life and completely miss the primary. We place wealth over love and money over relationship, and that becomes the root cause of all troubles in our lives. Once the mindset of the people was, “Use things and earn people.” Now the predominant mindset is “Use people and earn things.” It is just against the Christian Spirit.
Two friends, both of them at the age of marriage, were talking among themselves. One said, “You know that my parents are looking for a girl for me to get married. Finally they have boiled down to two girls. One is very rich, but proud, arrogant and ugly. The other is very poor, but affectionate, loving and humble. My parents want me to choose one of these two. What would be your suggestion?” His friend said, “Why do you have a second thought? Marry the poor girl. Your life will be heavenly.” The first one said, “What about the rich girl?” Came the reply from his friend, “Well! you give her address to me.”