25th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C
A Very Challenging Gospel
This was one of those gospels I read a dozen times trying to glean my own meaning or at least find a nugget somewhere. About the only thing I understood was the well-known final verse, “No servant can serve two masters” (v. 13). Next I did a lot of reading on it from several different perspectives and then put my head down on my desk in defeat. There still wasn’t much that made sense. I’m looking forward to hearing Father Rob’s homily!
After a week or so, I tentatively went back to it. Still nothing. What could Jesus possibly mean by telling us to “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth” (v. 9)?
But at least I had my nugget. After some more reading, I let the phrase digest (again). Maybe Jesus is telling us that all wealth is dishonest. Not that money itself is necessarily bad, but that there is undisputable economic disparity in the world. There always has been and there always will be until He comes again. Wealth is inherently dishonest because anything I have is made off the backs of someone less fortunate. I have it because they are less fortunate.
I don’t think Jesus is telling us to make peace with economic disparity. But He’s acknowledging its existence in perpetuity, (in Mark 14:7, He even says, “you will always have the poor”) and He’s letting us know that it’s up to us to use our wealth to do good. Rather than sit and stew about problems we can’t fix, we should fix something we can. Clarisssa Pinkola Estes echoes Jesus, “Mend the corner of the world within your reach.” The bigger your reach, the more you can mend. “To those whom much is given, much will be expected” (Luke 12:48).
None of us get a pass in trying to make the world a better place. It will never be perfect but that shouldn’t keep us from trying to make it better. It’s the trying, not the results, that earn us favor with God. The honest effort is what will “welcome us into eternal dwellings” (v. 9).
“Serving two masters” is generally understood in the context of this gospel as choosing God or money. But inaction because there’s no way to make society perfect is also choosing to serve a master other than God. God wants us to utilize the resources He has given us to make His world better. Think about the master you serve, whatever it may be, and choose God!