Names and titles can be expression of activities. Nicknames can refer to actions, stature, something physical. We each can have several names, family-of-origin names, names based on our commitments, titles that flow from our position in an organization. To my siblings I am Rory, here in my community I am Larry and Superior, (when they want special permission) I think. On campus I am Father and sometimes “Hey you”.
When preparing to celebrate the Eucharist or any time we pray, it is very helpful to check in with our selves to see just which name I am calling myself at that time. Whoever I am, that is where God’s attentive love is centered. As we journey toward the Eucharistic celebration, we can reflect on such names we might go by and allow God’s prayer over us to rename and reframe us and our relationships. At the Eucharist, Jesus claims us and names us, “My Body”.
The prophet Amos has had four visions granted him by God concerning Israel. A swarm of locusts, a drought, a measuring plumb-line and the one which opens the chapter from which our First Reading comes, a basket of fruit. All four visions indicate that Israel has not been faithful to their relationship with God. They literally do not measure up. The fruit in the basket is rotten and God means to punish Israel.
Amos has been announcing their crooked ways and has been charged not to speak any further. Of course he has to, because the Word is in him. What we hear is such a denunciation of the unjust business practices of the times. When Amos had pleaded with God not to send pestilence upon the people, God had relented, but through the preaching of Amos, things have not improved. What we hear today is an other warning to those practicing crooked dealings. Amos mimics their usual complaints, “When will the Sabbath be over, the celebration of the new moon so we can get back to work?” There are corners to be cut, the cheating to be extended.
Then Amos speaks for God that God will remember every little cheating corner they have done. Amos is no longer going to try to argue out of the divine plan as pictured in the visions, but he will not discontinue his prophetic warnings.
The Gospel continues Luke’s challengings of those who are
greedy and centered on wealth. We hear first a parable which does
need some study for understanding. A trusted servant has betrayed
his master and not dealt well with the master’s property.
He is summoned and his job is terminated. He reflects that he is
in bad shape in terms of the future. He makes little deals with
his fellow servants by which He asks various fellow servants how
much they owe the master. He tells them to consider the debt officially
much less. In this way he makes good friends with these fellow servants
who in turn will remember him in the days of need ahead. The master,
upon finding out about this, commends the trickiness of the servant
which he says is prudent.
Money, when it is not our master, can do great and wonderful things. The “children of light” are those who try to live toward the good, the Light. As children of the light we are invited to be prudent about what is important ultimately to us as those who are of “this generation”, who like the unworthy servant, are prudent for what they think is the “long term.” We are to continue making friends with the Light in Whom we can differ between the “short” and “long” term.
During the night, last night, our little house was broken into. The intruder entered the room of one of the priests who jumped from bed and frightened the man away. Later a second member found out that his wallet was minus a credit card and fifty dollars. That is a lot of money and I was pouting about the violation and the loss until I began reading about making friends with wealth until it fails.
The thief did have a “short run” down the stairs and I tried praying for the fellow for his “long run”. And my personal freedom from “our” money. Not so easy a prayer to have at mass this morning. The robber ultimately did find the credit card failing him when the card-company cancelled his spree of chargings. He was tricky in the “short run”, but he will have to keep running I suspect. My prayer ended peacefully there for him, that he could stop running for the “short term” in the dark, and find walking in the “light” more peaceful. Ultimately this is what the Light and the Gospel are about, the “long run” and what is prudently important for us to receive the light and resulting in the Life to come.
Prudence in the Christian Light is to sense, distinguish and choose wisely about the tensions between the “now” and the eternal “then”. Using our money to do the good is a wisdom. Using money or any creature as the ultimate is choosing in the darkness and living in the darkness will frighten us and make us keeping running away.
“You have laid down your precepts to be faithfully kept. May my footsteps be firm in keeping your commands.” Ps. 119 4-5
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