The Use of Money For Or Against the Kingdom, 24th Friday (I), September 22, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Friday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
September 22, 2017
1 Tim 6:2-12, Ps 49, Lk 8:1-3

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us we need to make a choice between serving God and serving mammon, because we will either use mammon to serve God and try to use God to serve mammon. In today’s readings we see that contrast played out.
  • In the first reading, we see Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna and the “many others” using their resources to care for Jesus and the Twelve. All they had they were dedicating to the spread of the kingdom. They “provided for them out of their resources,” which were far more than financial. They are models for us of spiritual maternity.   This was not a group of bored do-gooders who figured that these wandering 13 men would be lost without their feminine genius and maternal practicality. No, St. Luke tells us, that they were all “women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.” Each of them had received from Jesus a physical healing, a spiritual healing, or probably both. And having received much, they loved much, and they wanted to give Jesus and his mission all the love, the time and the material goods they could. All of their money, like their hearts, was consecrated to God.
  • In the first reading we see St. Paul warning St. Timothy about the false prophets, theological sophists, who use “religion to be a means of gain.” They’re trying to fulfill their three-fold concupiscence off of religion, getting famous, being lauded, becoming rich, and learning how to control people. The same temptation remains today of faking faith to profit materially. St. Paul says, in a shocking synthesis, that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Acquisitiveness, the worship of the ancient golden calf, is a spiritual cancer that metastasizes into all parts of life and leads, St. Paul describes, to conceit, arguments, verbal disputes, envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,and mutual friction. So much harm comes when we’re trying to gain money. We use others. We hurt others. We throw them away when they’re not of use to our bottom line. When we place our treasure in mammon, we begin not to be satisfied with what we have, because there’s always someone with more mammon and we begin to think we never have enough, and in the pursuit of more, we destroy often our relationships with others, with the environment, with ourselves, and with God. The Psalm focuses on this, saying about money lovers that rather than trusting in and praising God, “They trust in their wealth; the abundance of their riches is their boast,” and reminds us that when someone dies, “his wealth shall not follow him down.”
  • St. Paul describes another way, which can be summed up as “religion with contentment.” It’s a way of living by faith-filled gratitude, content with what we have rather than obsessed about what we don’t have, happy with what God has provided rather than desirous of mammon, a lifestyle that doesn’t bring us down but lifts us toward God. As St. Paul wisely reminds us, “We brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.” That faithful spirit of thanksgiving allows one to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” It helps to “compete well for the faith” and to “lay hold of eternal life,” because, like the letter to the Hebrews says about the first Christians, we permit ourselves to be stripped of earthly possessions because we have a far greater one! This is what only those who are poor in spirit, those who place their treasure in God, know.
  • As we come together to pray the Mass, we ask for the grace to live our Catholic faith with “contentment” and to find in the Jesus we’re about to receive our pearl of great price.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 1 TM 6:2C-12

Beloved:
Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.
But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.

Responsorial Psalm PS 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one’s life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
“They will praise you for doing well for yourself,”
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Alleluia SEE MT 11:25

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.