Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Sunday Word

Image result for luke 16:1-13

It is not too late to start your preparations for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture readings are particularly rich this week with the first reading of the prophet Amos and the Gospel according to Luke.

Hebrew scriptures insist on the centrality love of neighbor over all other obligations. The Book of Amos is an eloquent condemnation of those who privilege fastidious observance of covenant obligations over loving service of neighbor. Amos announces ruin for those who "trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land” — “Never will I forget a thing they have done.”

Sunday’s Gospel of the “unjust steward” has always been challenging for interpreters, but perhaps it too could be construed to reinforce Jesus’ identifying love of God with love of neighbor. The unjust steward reduced the amounts the debtors owed to the master in order gain favor with the debtors. The parable exhorts the hearers to be as shrewd in gaining favor with God as the unjust steward was in gaining favor with the master’s debtors. The reading concludes simply: "You cannot serve both God and mammon." Since Jesus equates service of neighbor with service to God perhaps we can hear Jesus exhorting hearers to serve God in our neighbor rather simply serve mammon (self and material prosperity).