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09/29/30 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Fr. Reggie

Jesus is incredibly realistic. He knows the human heart entirely because he is fully God and fully man. And so he knows that it’s impossible for us to serve two masters.

And so Jesus puts it bluntly: “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” “Mammon” was a term used in ancient Israel to signify riches. In modern terms, we might say that you can’t have two full-time careers without prioritizing one over the other.

Therefore in today’s Gospel Jesus asks us to check our hearts. Whom do we serve? Do we serve God or have we made ourselves slaves of material possessions?

Money is not a bad thing. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that differences in levels of wealth “belong to God’s plan, who wills that each receives what he needs from others and that those endowed with particular ‘talents’ share the benefits with those who need them” (CCC 1937).

Those who have been given the gift of wealth have a duty to use it wisely for the good of their brothers and sisters. So money is not in itself a bad thing. But the love of money is destructive. It takes our minds off of heaven. It hardens our hearts to the needs of our brothers and sisters. It makes us anxious and unsettled, terrified that we might lose our nest egg of security.

Jesus wants us to be free to love him and others. In another gospel passage he tells us “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

We choose where we want to dedicate our hearts. In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to dedicate them to God above all else. If we do that, we find the joyful freedom that only he can give. 

William Blake has a short poem that illustrates this perfectly. It’s called “Eternity.”

“He who binds to himself a joy,

Does the winged life destroy.

But he who kisses the joy as it flies,

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”

In other words, if we cling to the good things God has given us, and try to possess them, we lose them.

But if we treat them as gifts of God, which are good but subordinate to him, we keep them for eternity. 

One of the pillars of Catholic social teaching is solidarity. This means an active concern for the well-being of those less fortunate than we are. It also means that we put our money where our mouth is.

Both dimensions are necessary. If we just give with caring, our giving is cold and impersonal. But if we profess to care without doing anything, then we remain in a dream world.

So let’s examine our hearts now in the Mass, to see if we’re really giving of what we have to those who are lacking.

And let’s ask Christ to inspire in us a desire to pay forward the blessings we’ve received, and the strength to follow through with those resolutions.

Because when we die, the only thing we’ll take with us is what we have done for God and for others. 

 

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