Thursday, September 15, 2016

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time , September 18th by Beverly Bingle RCWP

Take a look at the bold type in the Gospel in your bulletin.
Scholars tell us that today's story of the dishonest steward
and the verses about split loyalties
definitely go back to Jesus.
He spoke words very close to what is written here.
2,000 years ago Jesus looked at the signs of his times
and observed that “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
He urged his disciples to be creative at being good
by telling them the parable of the cheating steward
who gets caught red-handed.
He knows he's going to be fired.
He worries.
He asks himself, “What shall I do?”
He could grab the chance to turn his life around.
But he doesn't—
he looks after his own security and cheats even more,
just to feather his own nest.
He's shrewd, that's for sure.
But he's not shrewd enough to practice virtue,
not wise enough to change course
and leave his self-serving ways behind.
Granted, it's not easy to do.
Whether it's a good habit or a bad habit,
the longer we've had the habit
the harder it is to change.
In the routine of everyday life, that daily grind,
it's rare that we take time to think about the long term.
So we end up making shortsighted choices.
Like the high school secretary who forgot her purse
and used the petty cash box to pay for her lunch.
Or the factory worker joining in the laughter at a racist or sexist joke.
Or the student postponing an assignment
until the night before it's due.
We suffer the consequences of our shortsightedness, 
but it's what we do afterward that forms our character.
We can choose to keep doing the same thing,
or we can resolve to change the habit.
Being a follower of the Way of Jesus,
we are called to live so that our daily choices
form patterns of virtue
that end up in our living a holier life.
Karl Rahner calls it a “fundamental option.”
When we choose evil, and choose it over and over,
we form habits that frame our “fundamental option”
away from God.
When we choose good, and choose it over and over,
we form habits that frame our “fundamental option”
towards God.
So what happens next with that school secretary?
She has a choice:
she can rationalize that she's underpaid
and deserves a free lunch and keep on taking from petty cash
—an option away from God;
or she can repay the petty cash the next day
and just go without lunch if she forgets her purse again
—an option toward God.
Same goes for that factory worker,
who can tell his friends an even more hateful joke
or let them know he doesn't think it's funny.
And that student, who can plagiarize the assignment
or choose to practice the self-discipline
needed to finish future assignments on time.
The untrustworthy steward in today's reading
found himself so trapped in his vice
that he couldn't come up with another kind of option.
He applied his wit and energy to a fundamental option toward evil,
serving himself.
So here we are, two millennia after Jesus,
living in a society that worships money
and routinely spews a rhetoric of hatred.
Pope Francis puts it in strong words:
the “unfettered pursuit of money”
leaves behind the service of the common good
and brings “pain, death, and destruction,”
“the stench of the dung of the devil.”
We are called to rise above the stench.
The path requires that we keep ourselves
turned toward the One God of all,
not the money god of our culture,
not the god of war and hate.
When we find ourselves wandering off the path of virtue,
we remind ourselves that new habits
are formed the same way the old ones were,
one choice at a time.
That's how we end up following the commandment that matters:
love God, love our neighbor.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

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