Last month I had a single heart by-pass which went very well - thank God and the doctor. The recovery time gave me plenty of mind-space to reflect on the shortness of life and those kind of things. Of all the surprises though my experience of myself at the Rehab Center took the cake.
I have been going three times a week and from the very beginning and even today, I find myself not wanting to associate with all those “others” on the treadmills and bikes. It has been all quite embarrassing not wanting to be “old” or “out-of-shape”. I have been a jogger for over thirty years and took the right medicines and was careful about eating healthy things. Now I am just like “others”. I smile as I write this, because it is so silly, but real. I would wish the Spiritual Life could raise me above being like, well, you and them.
The Eucharist is the continuation of the Divine embrace of all that is human in us, even that which we would rather not admit. The Spiritual Life is the way we live with the physical, emotional, psychological self and the Eucharist embeds itself right there. I would like to be above the human condition often. Jesus came to that very condition to stay there and is urging us to stay there as well. There is more going on at the Cardiac Rehab Center for me than the nurses suspect. My heart and soul are getting reacquainted. We can prepare for the Eucharist by being honest about our personal and communal condition.
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 another 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 God out of the divine plan as pictured in the visions, but he will not discontinue his prophetic warnings.
The Gospel continues Luke’s challenging 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”.
I would like to think that Jesus well knew the lust for identity through wealth that was in the hearts of His followers. He is telling them and us to try to find peace and true life by making money a permanent deity. The life that Jesus offers is but one of many forms and we will have to try them and be disappointed by them. We will come to His ways and to Him personally with many experiences of frustration, abandonment, and emptiness. We pay tribute to the Giver by our desire to dis-tribute all that we have, including our gifted selves.
“You have laid down your precepts to be faithfully kept. May my footsteps be firm in keeping your commands.” Ps. 119 4-5
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook