25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
September 18, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law
upon love of you and of our neighbor,
grant that, by keeping your precepts,
we may merit to attain eternal life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Am 8:4-7

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
   and destroy the poor of the land!
“When will the new moon be over,” you ask,
   “that we may sell our grain,
   and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?
We will diminish the ephah,
   add to the shekel,
   and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly for silver,
   and the poor for a pair of sandals;
   even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
   Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Responsorial Psalm. Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8 


Second Reading 1 Tm 2:1-8 

First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
   petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
   for kings and for all in authority,
   that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
   in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
   who wills everyone to be saved
   and to come to knowledge of the truth.
      For there is one God.
      There is also one mediator between God and men,
      the man Christ Jesus,
      who gave himself as ransom for all.
This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and apostle
   —I am speaking the truth, I am not lying—,
   teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
   lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Acclamation before the Gospel cf. 2 Cor 8:9

Gospel. Lk 16:10-13

Jesus said to his disciples:
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.”

Reflection Questions

How does our society "trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land?"

What inhibits you from praying with "holy hands, without anger or argument?"

How do you understand "dishonest wealth?

Catena Nova

“A servant cannot serve two masters.”  Not that there are two, there is only one Master.  For even if there are some people who serve money, it has no inherent right to be a master, they themselves are the ones, who assume the yoke of this slavery.  In fact, money has no rightful authority but constitutes an unjust bondage.   That is why Jesus says: “Make friends for yourselves with deceitful money” so that by generosity to the poor we will win the favour of angels and saints.  The steward is not blamed.   By this we learn that we are not masters but rather stewards of other people’s wealth.   He was praised even though he was in the wrong because, in paying out to others in his master’s name he won support for himself.  And how rightly Jesus spoke of “deceitful wealth” because love of money so tempts our desires with its various seductions that we consent to become its slaves.  That is why He said: “If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?”  Riches are alien to us because they exist outside of our nature, they are not born with us, they do not follow us in death.   But Christ, to the contrary, belongs to us because He is life… So don’t let us become slaves of exterior goods because Christ is the only one we should acknowledge as our Lord. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

We have been entrusted with the administration of our Lord’s property to use what we need with thanksgiving, and to distribute the rest among our fellow servants according to the needs of each one. We must not squander the wealth entrusted to us, nor use it on superfluities, for when the Lord comes we shall be required to account for our expenditure…. For if someone cannot be relied on to administer worldly possessions that provide the means for all sorts of wrong doing, would anyone dream of trusting that person with the true heavenly riches rightly and deservedly enjoyed by those who have been faithful in giving to the poor?…Nothing in this world really belongs to us. We who hope for a future reward are told to live in this world as strangers and pilgrims, so as to be able to say to the Lord without fear of contradiction: “I am a stranger and a pilgrim like all my ancestors.” What believers can regard as their own is that eternal and heavenly possession where our heart is and our treasure, and where intense longing makes us dwell already through faith, for as Saint Paul teaches, “Our homeland is in heaven.” (Gaudentius of Brescia)

I rose up at the dawn of day--

“Get thee away! get thee away!

Pray'st thou for riches? Away! away!

This is the Throne of Mammon grey.”

Said I: This, sure, is very odd;

I took it to be the Throne of God

For everything besides I have:

It is only for riches that I can crave

I have mental joy, and mental health

And mental friends, and mental wealth;

I've a wife I love, and that loves me;

I've all but riches bodily

I am in God's presence night and day

And He never turns His face away;

The accuser of sins by my side doth stand

And he holds my money-bag in his hand

For my worldly things God makes him pay

And he'd pay for more if to him I would pray;

And so you may do the worst you can do;

Be assur'd, Mr. Devil, I won't pray to you

Then if for riches I must not pray

God knows, I little of prayers need say;

So, as a church is known by its steeple

If I pray it must be for other people

He says, if I do not worship him for a God

I shall eat coarser food, and go worse shod;

So, as I don't value such things as these

You must do, Mr. Devil, just as God please (William Blake)

The avaricious man of our day, be he landlord, merchant, industrialist, does not adore sacks of coins or bundles of banknotes in some little chapel and upon some little altar. He does not kneel before these spoils of other men, nor does he address prayers or canticles to them amidst odorous clouds of incense. But he proclaims that money is the only good, and he yields it all his soul. A cult sincere, without hypocrisy, never growing weary, never forsworn. Whenever he says, in the debasement of his heart and his speech, that he loves money for the delights it can purchase, he lies or he terribly deceives himself, this very assertion being belied at the very moment he utters it by every one of his acts, by the infinite toil and pains to which he gladly condemns himself in order to acquire or conserve that money which is but the visible figure of the Blood of Christ circulating throughout all His members. (Leon Bloy)

In the Abrahamic religions, God is again and again praised as the “eternally rich One” who holds the fullness of life in both hands. Paradoxically, the way to this richness leads through poverty. Possessions, privileges, and power, all basic institutions of common life, are ever abolished anew in this attempt to come naked before God, without covering and defenses in the vulnerability that every love creates. Love, every love, renders one naked. (Dorothee Soelle)

It is poverty of Spirit which you, Lord Jesus, said was blessed. that makes every - absolutely every - material thing a matter of complete indifference, so that we can brush everything aside, break with everything … This is the poverty that leaves no attachments at all to temporal things, but completely empties the heart, leaving it whole and entirely free for God alone. God then refilled it with himself, reigning in it alone, filling it wholly with himself, and putting into it - though not for itself, but for himself, for his own sake - love for all men, his children. The heart then knows nothing and holds nothing but these two loves. Nothing else exists for it any longer, and it lives on earth as though it were not there, and in continuous contemplation of the only real necessity, the only Being, and in intercession for those whom the Heart of God longs to love.  (St. Charles de Foucauld)

Debt and desire for things enslaves many people I know, and draws them into lives that are in the service of Mammon, a master they neither choose nor want, but who tricks them by playing on insecurities, on good intentions and on reasonable ambitions. At a national and international level, every crisis seems to end in talk about economics – not economics as a tool in the service of human flourishing, but as an end in itself.  It seems that in many eyes, and often in mine, personal finances that are in good shape, or a national or global economy doing well, are not merely a means to improve people’s lives, but are seen as the goal in pursuit of a good life.  That approach is incompatible with serving Christ. It is incompatible, yet God, in grace and love and patience, meets us, blesses us, calls us and guides us, even while we are possessed by the power of Mammon. God waits for us to find the real treasure in life, and to begin the incredibly radical steps – the first steps in a journey that will last a lifetime – to bring us to the point of losing everything for the sake of the treasure of the kingdom of heaven. (Archbishop Justin Welby)


Prudence Dictates

     Virtue lies in the Golden Mean.  So said Aristotle.  Overdoing or under-doing something virtuous soon becomes a vice.  The philosopher also gave us the four “cardinal virtues”    namely, justice, temperance, fortitude and prudence.  Every other virtue, he thought, hinged on just those four.  Justice gives everyone their due so that right relationships are maintained in one’s personal life and in society.  Giving too little from stinginess or too much from extravagance violates the mean. Fortitude requires courage in the face of adversity where recklessness and cowardice run to the extremes.  And temperance seeks moderation in things we enjoy, which is why a wedding reception may call for a toast but never “one for the road.”  

     Then there’s prudence — which some consider the master virtue.  Adding their voices to Aristotle’s, St. Augustine defined prudence as knowing what to seek and what to avoid while St. Thomas Aquinas called prudence “right reason applied to action” (ST II II, 47. 8).  Prudence then leads you to make the right choice in a given situation and lies somewhere between the extremes of excessive caution and of rash judgment.  

     At the moment, the nation is facing some pretty heavy prudential decisions with pretty serious ramifications.  The Attorney General is facing questions about the prudence of indicting a former president and the dangers of civil unrest and violence as a consequence weighed against issues related to the rule of law and national security. The Chair of the Federal Reserve meanwhile has to judge a prudent course of action in dealing with inflation in everything from how high and how fast to raise interest rates, to how much the unemployment rate should rise, to how low the stock market should fall.  On the international front Western allies continue to face questions about the prudent way to approach Russia’s war against Ukraine with all the dire consequences missteps could bring about.  And one hopes such decisions will be guided by the virtue of prudence, in particular.  

     Yet Christians realize how human prudence easily degenerates into mere self-interest.  We also understand how human virtues like prudence require the assistance of divine grace.  When we sail under our own power something is likely to run aground on the shoals of fallen human nature.  Carmelite author, Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, alerts us to the problem:

In order that our judgments and choices be prudent, we must know how to free them from elements which are too subjective, such as our personal attractions and interests, our natural likes and dislikes. Sometimes we can deceive ourselves into thinking we are judging situations or deciding to do something solely for the glory of God or for the good of our neighbor, when, in fact, if we examined ourselves thoroughly, we would perhaps see that the motives that prevailed in our judgment or in our deliberations were egotistic and dictated by our own personal interests. Hence, even, prudence requires that we cleanse our heart from all these human motives, and that we practice detachment and renunciation. (Divine Intimacy, n. 274)

     Hence, worldly prudence — the stuff of political calculation — needs a spiritual counterpart enlightened by faith and elevated by the Holy Spirit.  A Dominican priest speaking from the Thomist tradition puts it this way, “Christian prudence is ever at odds with the wisdom of the world. For example, it does not judge things solely by the satisfactions or pleasures they afford, nor the material gains they bring. [For] Christian prudence also sees things in the light of faith.  And it makes sure they do not obscure or lead away from our eternal goal. It is ever mindful of the question asked by St. Bernard….: ‘What is the value of this for eternity? ’” (Paul A. Duffner; https://www.rosary-center.org/ll51n2.htm).

     Which brings me to the manager in today’s parable who won praise from his wealthy boss for dealing with a little matter of honesty: The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently (G).  Really?  I don’t think Aristotle would approve!  And then Jesus goes and adds his praise: For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light! (G).  Not sure Augustine or Thomas would approve there either!  But is that the point?  For while it may sound like Jesus is condoning theft, the interpretation Luke provides sends us in another direction.

     True, Christians ought to have some smarts when it comes to handling their earthly affairs, just as their unbelieving counterparts do -- even when that involves us in the messiness of the world, with all its dishonest wealth (G).  But it’s where Luke ends up that really matters.  For the gospel never lets us forget how earthly affairs – even the most urgent – must be seen with that bigger picture St. Bernard mentions in mind — one that opens onto eternity, onto the realm of God.  That’s why Jesus warns that earthly wealth and power – Mammon -- even when used prudently — so often fail us, and all that ultimately matters is what will secure our welcome into eternal dwellings (cf. G).  

     So in the days ahead as decisions are made about matters of good and evil, life and death, time and eternity, God and Mammon -- we need more than ever to hear Paul’s admonition to Timothy: Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority that we might lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth (II).  Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen. 


Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Web Site)

For the Church: that we may be good stewards of the gifts that God has given us, use them for God’s glory, and never be possessed by our possessions.

For the President and the leaders of all nations:  that they may fulfill their obligations faithfully and establish peace and good order in each nation.

For the members of Congress: that God will give them insight and courage as they address the issues of safety, immigration and healthcare.

For governors and all local civil authorities: that God will guide them in promoting the common good, equality for all people, and care for those in need. For the development of ethics and honesty in business: that all who lead companies may be guided by the Spirit in implementing just practices and products that are beneficial.

For employers and employees: that each may fulfill their responsibilities and treat one another with dignity and respect.

For all who are caught in deceit and corruption: that God will free their hearts and open to them the life and wholeness that comes from living in the truth.

For the poor: that God will lift their burden and help them to find ways to meet their needs and prosper. For preservation of water resources: that God will inspire all who are responsible for stewarding water resources to find new ways to protect and preserve the waters that is needed for all human life.

For an end to violence: that the Spirit of God will turn hearts from violence, protect children from harm, and help all to respect the dignity of human life.

God our Saviour,
you call us into your service.
Make us wise and resourceful:
children of the light who continue your work in this world
with untiring concern for integrity and justice.
We ask this through
Christ our Lord. Amen.  (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Hymn

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn