Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: A Dose of Their Own Medicine
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday September 22 2019
I was in the grocery one time looking for my favorite green tea. I was surprised to see on the shelf a new product called “Honest Tea”. It appears harmless but it sounds deceiving. Anybody who hears that name would think that the virtue of honesty is now for sale in the grocery. Definitely, this is a clever marketing ploy. But this also reveals how the worldly people are using and taking advantage of the spiritual values in the pursuit and advancement of their goals and agenda. Let me cite a few more examples. We use Abba to call God our Father, but the music industry used it as the name of that famous singing and swinging group. We address the Blessed Virgin as Madonna, but it is the name of a rock star. The cross is the symbol of our faith, but is now used merely as bodily decoration in rock concerts, at times in the inverted position. Trust is a Christian virtue, but it is the brand name of a condom. And of course, love, the only word that is used to describe God, has practically lost its true meaning. All these are part of the devil’s plan to secularize the sacred and trivialize the true faith.
Sacred realities are being used for secular purposes. How many times have we heard about a church where rock concerts were held? Have you heard Gregorian chant mixed into heavy metal rock music? How often did we witness the sacred Host, because of the common practice of Communion-in-the-hand, being subjected to profanation and desecration? We know of many instances when the sacred Host is taken home as souvenir, or as talisman or amulet for fighting cocks, or used in satanic cults.
The world is making use of the sacred and spiritual realities to further the agenda of the worldly people and the devil. Are we not going to do something about it? Have we ever thought of giving them a dose of their own medicine? Is it possible to make use of the worldly for the advantage of the sacred? Doing nothing would just confirm what our Lord said: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light” (Lk 16:8).
A gambling syndicate offered a huge amount of money to a poor parish. Surprisingly, the priest accepted the donation. The people were curious as to what the priest will do with the money. In fact, many of them were scandalized that he accepted the donation. During his homily that Sunday, the priest showed the money to the people and said, “My dear parishioners, this money comes from gambling. This is dirty money. It is the money of the devil. But we are going to punish the devil! We will use his money to repair this church and to evangelize people so that sinners will be converted. In short, we are going to punish and destroy the devil with his own money!”
This story may make some people uneasy. But I am not saying that the end justifies the means, and that it is all right to accept donations from dirty sources, for that would be tantamount to condoning or even approving evil deeds. Rather, this is just meant to remind us that we cannot be fence sitters and passive bystanders. We have to get back at the enemy.
In the Gospel this Sunday, the master praised the dishonest manager. This may sound strange for Jesus to say this. However, he clarified that this was not for dishonesty that the manager was praised but “for acting prudently” or shrewdly. Knowing that his tenure of stewardship is about to end, he was smart enough to make use of his remaining time in office to gain loyal friends. So Jesus said, “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” The translation from the New Jerusalem Bible is better: “Use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.” That means making use of this world’s goods for eternal salvation, and using temporal things to attain the heavenly rewards. Simply put, it is our way of getting back at the devil in this raging spiritual battle.
The global economic crisis and financial meltdown have sent us a very clear message: economic giants are vulnerable, big banks and financial institutions can crumble, money can be lost in an instant. They will surely fail us, for they are never permanent. And when they are lost, they are totally gone – except those that were spent to serve God by spreading the true faith and by helping the poor and the needy. In short, money and all material resources will never be lost if they are invested in the eternal treasuries of heaven.
How about that? This sounds like the best deal of all times: using the temporal in exchange for the eternal, the worldly things to get the heavenly rewards. This is just a matter of faithful stewardship. If we are trustworthy in administering the passing things of this world, God will also entrust us with the eternal treasures of heaven. The Church is full of saints who showed us that this is certainly true: St. Joseph of Arimathea, St. Helena, St. Henry II, St. Louis IX, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Hedwig of Poland, St. Ethelbert of Kent and many others. They were kings, queens, princes and millionaires who used their worldly wealth and power to help the poor and bring people to God. As a result, they have gained the eternal riches of heaven.
Money in itself is not the root of evil; rather, it is love of money. When money is considered as one’s master, that is the cause of so much trouble and misery. Pope John Paul II said that: “The greatest misfortune of this age is that people consider money as the highest good.” But when money is used as one’s instrument and servant to help the poor and to worship God, then it becomes a great blessing. Thus the Lord warned us: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Let us use money as our servant, and let us serve and worship God as our Lord.
Saint Paul exhorts us: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ (Col 3:23-24). This will make us trustworthy stewards of God’s blessings in this world and faithful citizens of His kingdom.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Amsterdam St., Capitol Park Homes
Matandang Balara, Quezon City