Sunday Sermon for September 18, 2022, the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Readings: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
In the Gospel reading today Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters. He goes even further to say that if we try to do so, we will either hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. In the context of the reading, Our Lord addresses one of the most common false gods: money. He says explicitly, we cannot serve both God and mammon.
In a society like ours, money is a necessity. By itself, money is not evil. However, St. James tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. For our purposes, this means we must learn to keep guard over our hearts and minds because of we begin to put too much emphasis on money, we will begin doing other things that are not good in order to preserve the money we have or, more often, to increase the amount of money we have.
The first reading gives us an example of something of which we can be aware. We hear about the Jewish people who, because of the Laws God had put forth, did not sell their goods on the Sabbath. However, it is obvious from the passage that they were not really interested in the Sabbath, they only followed the Law because they were required to do so. They were more interested in knowing the exact moment the Sabbath would be over so they could get back to the business of obtaining more money.
In our society we have completely ignored and rejected the Sabbath. God is King of the Universe, but most people in business have made money the king of our world. The insane drive to get more money always amazes me. When you see the people who have billions of dollars maneuvering and manipulating to get more, one must wonder how much they think they need. If they started today to spend as much money as they could every day, they would not be able to spend everything they already have by the end of their lives. But, for some reason, they are not satisfied and they want more.
When it comes right down to it, one would have to say these people want more because this is the god they serve. When we look at the lives of the Saints, they served the Lord. They were never satisfied that they gave Him enough. They wanted to love God more and more. Of course, the more we love God, the more we are able to receive His love. He gives Himself to each of us infinitely, so none of us can receive the absolute fullness of His love and, therefore, of His Person. However, the more we open our hearts in love, the more of God’s love and, therefore, the more of God Himself, that we are able to receive.
The difference between these two examples is that the Saints are not interested in gaining more for themselves; they just want to love and serve God more and better. People who serve money, or any other false god, are more concerned about what they are going to get for themselves. It is not about loving their god more, it is about getting more for themselves. So, the more one loves money, the more they are going to desire to obtain more money. This is going to be true regarding anything we make into a false god.
While it is easy to see the example of making money into a false god, what it all comes down to is loving ourselves more than God. In other words, we become the false god and seek to serve ourselves and our own self-interests. What we might make into a false god depends upon what our self-interests might be. But, the real false god is our own self. This is a truly scary statement.
There is only one God, as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading. There is also only one Mediator between us and God: the Lord Jesus Christ. We all know this to be true, but it is not a question of knowing the truth, it is a question of living the truth. Each person must choose whom they will serve. God has chosen to serve us which means He will do what is best for us. What is best is that we become the persons we were created to be and do what we were created to do. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and we are made to love and to be loved.
God loves us; therefore, He serves us. If we love properly, we will serve God and neighbor. You cannot serve two masters. Who is your master? Whom will you serve?
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.