THEME: Overcoming Greed and Dishonesty

BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie



Amos 8:4-7
Resp. Psalm: 113:1-2,4-8
1Timothy 2:1-8
Luke 16:1-13

The readings of this 25th Sunday of the liturgical year can be approached from diverse perspectives for spiritual nourishment. But one theme that cannot be missed is the theme of dishonesty coupled with greed. Most societal problems hinge on greed and greedy persons are usually dishonest. One can preach and shout from January to December every year about equitable redistribution of wealth in the society, but as long as those responsible for the redistribution remain greedy, nothing can be achieved. The greedy person never acquires enough and keeps defraudingto get more and more. The only solution is total repentance.

1. The first reading from Amos 8:4-7 condemns the dishonesty of Israel’s local traders who are notorious for falsifying the scales in order to cheat the hapless buyers, just like our people today who falsify the metres and the measuring cups for food items. They trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land. The prophet Amos warns that the Lord will not forget their crimes. Amos usually has very strong words for the oppressive ones of the society and the dishonest leaders.
The psalmist of Psalm 113 reminds us that we have a God who cares for the poor and oppressed. He lifts up the lowly from the dust, and
from the ash heap he raises the poor. So, all who oppress them must know that God is their powerful Defender.

2. We meet another scene of greed and dishonesty in the Gospel of today from Luke 16:1-13. Here, Jesus tells the famous parable of the dishonest steward and manager of his master’s business. As his dishonest and corrupt practices come to the ear of his master, he is mandated by the master to give account before being dismissed. But in his cunny ways, he goes on to curry favour with his master’s great debtors by reducing their debts drastically, hoping to find shelter in their abodes when the master dismisses him. The surprising thing about this story is that Jesus praises the shrewdness and astuteness of this dishonest steward who prepares for the rainy day. However, Jesus does not praise his dishonesty but marvels at his worldly wisdom. His point is that the children of the Kingdom should likewise prepare for the future by making friends with the forces that will admit them into the eternal Kingdom. People should not be so engrossed with the love of money and pursuit of wealth that they forget that life does not depend on all these. The Gospel ends on a very familiar note from Jesus: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).
Unfortunately, many in our society today have abandoned the sincere worship of God for the worship of money and wealth. That is why the society stinks with all forms of crime. The insatiable greed of many, especially the rich and the rulers together with their dishonest ways, have continued to create more misery and suffering turning the society into a vale of tears and mourning.

3. The second reading from Paul’s first letter to Timothy (2:1-8) invites us to pray for all who are in-charge of the affairs in the land so that they may live good lives and that we may have a quiet and peaceful society. Surprisingly, the Apostle does not urge us to curse our leaders and all who oppress us but, rather, to pray for them, as they also need salvation. This is the authentic Christian approach. It departs slightly from some Old Testament prophetic approaches of total condemnation and threat. Both Testaments are, however, generally united in their condemnation of evil and call for repentance.

The issue of greed and dishonesty is in one way or the other common to us all at all levels. It begins in the family and grows to monstrous levels in the public service and business contexts. The greedy person is difficult to live with and he or she has a way of turning every good into evil just for self-satisfaction. Most of our problems today are caused by greed. That is why we never have enough.
May the word of God touch our hearts today and the hearts of all greedy and dishonest people in our society!

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