Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Use stuff to gain people (Sunday homily)

The parable Jesus told is confusing in some ways. 
But here's the key point: Jesus is telling us to have the right approach 
to money, and stuff, and material success.

Let's compare the worldly way with God's way:
The worldly way is to use people to gain success and money;
God's way is to use money and position to gain people -- that is, for the Kingdom.

One of the principles our Church teaches in the category of social justice 
is "the universal destination of goods." What does that mean?

It means that while we may own this or that thing, ultimately, everything belongs to God; 
and God gave everything in Creation for all his children to enjoy.

Think of a family. Dad passes out slices of pizza to everyone. He intends everyone to get some. 
What happens when he looks up and sees one child has three slices, and two have none?

God doesn't intervene the way my father, or yours, would. 
But he sees, and he will hold us accountable.

Now, the point is not socialism, 
because that just lets someone in government play god, 
and they make a mess of it. 

Rather, the point is that you and I seek to ensure 
every one of God's children gets a fair chance. 
And if no one forces us to share, that doesn't mean 
we can't and shouldn't do it ourselves.

My pizza analogy can be misunderstood, 
because there is only going to be a certain amount of pizza on the table;
but that doesn't mean there isn't an abundance of resources in our world.

It has been fashionable for years to claim that our world is resource-poor,
and that we have too many people. 
I'm sorry, but that is the devil talking!
God never says, "I have too many children."

It is a worldly mindset that says, "too many people."
Remember the disciples in the Gospel, 
when they had all those people listening to Jesus, and they were hungry? 
What did the disciples say? "Send them away."
But Jesus said, "you feed them yourselves." 
The disciples said, we can't do that! 
But when they did it God's way, they had more than enough, 
and twelve baskets of leftovers besides. 

Let's get back to how we approach our stuff and our plans for our lives. 
There is a place for budgets, for ambition, for savings and security.
But the key question we might ask is...

What is it all for?
What will I do with my success, 
my advancement in my career, and whatever stuff I acquire?

Jesus praised the dishonest steward for being prudent -- he used stuff to gain people.
And his point is not to favor dishonesty, but to say, would that the children of light
were doing the same, that is, to gain people for the Kingdom.

If you have a house, you can welcome people.
If you have a car, you can give rides.
If you have money and stuff, you can give some of it away.
Our St. Vincent de Paul group is organizing another food drive, 
which you can read about in the bulletin. 
They want to raise enough to donate over 5,000 items of food to the hungry. 
We did it before and we can do it again.

When I was a new priest, I would give a penance to children, 
who said they were greedy, to go home and give something away. 
But then I realized, they might give away something they shouldn't, so I stopped that. 

Still, I think it's never too early to learn the lesson of letting go of possessions.

If we reach heaven, you and I won't see any of our possessions there. 
None of our money, or stuff, will be there. 
But what we will see is people. And won't it be wonderful 
to see all the people we helped get there, with our stuff?

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