25th Sunday (C)
Has this ever happened to you? You are watching a basketball game on TV. The score is tied. Your team has the ball. There are ten seconds left to play. You are on the edge of your seat, and then…there’s a break for a commercial! #@%!&!
It’s not only upsetting that commercials come at the most inconvenient time. It’s also upsetting because what they communicate to us is a lie. I don’t mean that they are lying to us about a specific product. This may happen. It’s the big lie I’m talking about. Commercials tell us over and over again that, “To be happy, you’ve got to have stuff.” “To be happy you’ve got to have beer, cars, cereal, clothes, medicine, perfume…”
It is estimated that by the time a child enters first grade, he or she has seen over 30,000 commercials. Thirty-thousand times they have heard the message that, “To be happy, you’ve got to have stuff.”
After hearing the message so many times, some people are actually dumb enough to believe it. So they go off and buy lots of stuff. This stuff doesn’t seem to make them happy, so they work harder, get more money, and go off and buy more stuff. Still no happiness. So they work even harder, get more money, and buy even more stuff. Still no happiness.
Guess what? It’s not working. So they get depressed. Could it be they are looking for life in all the wrong places?
If you watch CNN news, you know who Anderson Cooper is. Besides being a famous news announcer, his is also the son of the late Gloria Vanderbilt. Because his mother was rich and famous, many rich and famous people visited their home when Anderson was a child.
He stated: “To me, the greatest privilege of the way I grew up was realizing at a very young age that these people are just as unhappy as everyone else. Once you realize that, it frees you up from believing that fame or riches are going to bring you happiness. I think it takes a lot of people a long time to figure that one out.”
The actor Jim Carrey put it this way: “I wish everybody fame and fortune so they can cross it off the list and move on to something else.”
Billy Graham said, “If a person gets their attitude towards money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in their life.”
The gospel uses the word “stewardship.” Stewardship refers to more than just money. The steward in a gospel story is said to have “squandered” his master’s property. Does not our life come from God, belong to God, and is in effect God’s “property”? Do not all our talents come from God, belong to God, and are God’s property. Was not the earth created by God, and is indeed God’s property?
Today’s gospel challenges us to reflect on how wisely we use our time, how generous we are with our talents, and how well we take care of the earth. Are we good stewards?
Once we get our own personal values straight, what’s next?
There is the larger world scene. You and I may not cheat or steal in the local market place, as our first reading narrates. But honesty and justice requires something more. We need to keep striving for peace.
The late General and President, Dwight Eisenhower, said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” (He said that in 1953!)
For instance, it is estimated that it would take about 30 billion dollars to end world hunger for a year. The Pentagon spends that much every twenty days.
What President Eisenhower was saying is that not only do thieves rob banks, but there is grand theft when tax dollars are misdirected and misspent. Our concern for the poor means a concern about how government spends money. War kill lives, and war kill dreams. And all of us are impoverished.
That is why our second reading today is so to the point. Paul urges that our petitions, prayers and intercessions be offered for all, especially for kings and those in authority. In our petitions at Mass we pray for our leaders so that their thoughts and actions move the world in the direction of justice and peace.
If stewardship means caring for the earth and all of its people, then the high point of stewardship will be reached when the vision of the prophet Isaiah comes to pass. He said, “They shall beat their swords into plowshare and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4)
No one can serve two masters. Come, let us give our hearts to the Lord.