The WORD in Other Words by Fr Ferdinand Bajao SVD (Philippines)
25th Sunday Ordinary Time, Amos 8:4-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13 or 16:10-13
I am moved by the devotion of the youth at the Alternative Learning System (ALS) Center. They are cheerfully faithful to their duties and eager to learn more about the faith. Some of them grew up in environments that taught them in the ways of the world. Yet, I have personally seen many inspiring changes in their behaviors and views of life through time. Some can even outmatch us in zeal and devotion.
I believe in witnessing to God and to good values. The care shown to these young people and the affirmation they receive for every good turn are very influential in bringing out the best in them. Their exposure to spiritual activities, especially the Holy Mass, marks them significantly. The process is slow but it is happening. Gradually, we “churn” out speakers, dancers, writers, singers and achievers who are far from the defeated souls and losers that they were when they first came to the center. The greatest achievement is when they realize the difference between their lives before and at present, and how they have been transformed to do better. Not every story here is a success, however. With some setbacks, we have become all the more trusting where the Lord leads us. The world may have given up on these young people, but the Lord did not.
In today‘s Gospel, Jesus praised the dishonest strategies of the servant not to approve of the dishonesty but to affirm the servant‘s creativity and zeal to do anything and everything just to get his desired post or prize. Sadly, the Lord did not find such passion and fire among those who professed themselves as children of the Light. Being the elect people of God is not a guarantee of faith by profession and action. In the first reading, Amos lamented how the chosen people “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land,” thus, the Lord swore that these people will be held accountable, their deeds He will not forget.
The greatest “prize” is to win heaven, but we sometimes live as though there is no heaven to hope and aspire for. Our mediocrity comes in the way of a holy and Christian life. We delay our conversion thinking that we can simply repent later. No, this is not what the Lord expects of us. Perhaps it‘s why the Lord says: “I assure you and most solemnly say to you that the tax collectors and the prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you” (cf Matthew 21:31). He asks us to yearn for the divine life that He alone can give. He asks us to welcome Him in our very lives. He expects us to go by the way of Love — the excellent and perfect way of life — the Love that does not settle for anything less, that offers mercy, and not sacrifice. He expects more love from us, the children of Light.