Return on your investment?

I am sure you never came here today expecting financial advice. And while I am no expert on these matters Jesus is. Yet it is a different kind of financial advice that Christ offers us today, as he states, “You cannot serve God and wealth.” He is getting at something deeper here as he uses a story to compare for us the zeal for worldly wealth with the zeal for His kingdom.

We hear the story of a manager today, as unfaithful as he has been with his master’s wealth, when asked to give an account of what he has done realizes he has been caught. He has used his master’s wealth to propel himself forward in life, and yet at this point of being caught he still doesn’t give up.

I think there are a two major things to notice here, two lessons that we can learn from this story as Jesus teaches us how we should act in relation to his kingdom from the experiences of this unfaithful and dishonest manager.

Firstly, we can see the intensity, and the desperation, of the unfaithful manager. He realizes the situation he is in with being let go from his job; “I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.” And so he works diligently to find favor with his master’s debtors by forgiving them some of their debt, even though it is at the expense of his master. Furthermore, his master even commends him on this act, “… for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” In today’s world many people are dedicated to developing worldly skills and in gaining knowledge to hold down a job or a career, but when it comes to faith there is not near the same amount of effort. From this the Lord is encouraging us to show the same intensity in spiritual matters, in living truth, in prayer, in our relationship with Him, as we make in our worldly efforts. If we could see how God sees us, as the rich man saw how his manager had been dishonest, how desparate would we be to further our spiritual cause. It is worth pondering!

The second lesson we can learn from this story is how to invest our wealth. “I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into eternal homes.” This is an interesting image Jesus uses to instruct us on how to use money (or as it is put, dishonest wealth); the dishonest manager used the money at his disposal to make friends who could help him in the next stage of his life. At some point money and worldly wealth will be useless to us, but how are we using our money and resources to bless others. Just as the world tells us to invest our money to reap words in the future, so too does the Lord. By giving it away to those most in need, those who will speak on our behalf, we are storing up or wealth in heaven.

So, as we have been entrusted with this “little” let us strive today to be faithful with it by putting spiritual matters ahead of wealth and the world, and by investing for our spiritual futures. Surely we cannot accomplish this alone, for the pull of the world is strong. We need to get on our knees and pray for God’s grace to grant us strength to prefer God to the world and also to grant us a spiritual desperation that would bring us a deeper desire for “thy Kingdom come and thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!”

Scripture Readings:

Amos 8.4-7

Psalm 113

1 Timothy 2.1-7

Luke 16.1-13

A Foreshadowing of Eternal Intimacy

A reflection from Sunday, October 4th:

We hear the Scriptures open today with God’s creation of humanity, forming man from the dust of the ground, and then woman from the rib of man. On the surface we may just look at this story as simply what it is, the story of creation, however there is one underlying theme that really sums up what is to come to fruition in God’s plan and also connects it to our Gospel message today.

This theme is that man was created for intimacy, for a deeper union. This scripture from Genesis show us of this:

“After the man had given names to all the animals, there was still not found a helper as his partner, So God created woman, and the man proclaimed, ‘This is at last bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.’” And the verse goes on to say that, “…a man clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

This speaks of a deep intimacy, that 2 separate people would become one flesh.

This leads us in to the Gospel, as we hear the Pharisees testing Jesus by asking him if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. We must not take Jesus’ words lightly, as he speaks of the gravity of divorce. He highlights how the Pharisees and many men of his time had rejected God’s fundamental teaching on marriage, “ascribing it to their hearts, that had become hardened by sin, lack of forgiveness, and rejection of God’s plan.”

Jesus announces a restoration, a return, to God’s original plan, “From the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh… Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” God’s plan is clear, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

“Marriage has a reality beyond what mere humans bring to it or say of it. Marriage is a work of God; it has a reality and an existence that flows from God’s work, not man’s. “And any attempts to redefine or alter marriage as God has set it forth separates us from Him and His reality. This is where I believe the gravity lies.

So let’s take our reflection a step further, reading between the lines per se, going back to the underlying theme; we are created for intimacy, and a deep union.

Marriage, in this life, is meant to foreshadow heaven where, for all eternity, we will celebrate the marriage of Christ and the Church. This is the deepest desire of the human heart; to live in the eternal bliss of communion with God himself. As wonderful as marriage, and marital intimacy, can be in this life it’s only a sign, a foretaste, and a sacrament of what is to come.

Using this spousal image as an analogy, we can say that God’s plan for all eternity is to “marry” us.

Christ left his Father in heaven. He left the home of his mother on earth to give up his body for his bride, so that we might become “one flesh” with him and be taken up into the life of the Trinity for all eternity.

So if we look back now at Jesus rebuttal and seriousness towards the Pharisees and his disciples we can hopefully see his perspective; God has made us for union and intimacy ultimately with Himself, has revealed his intimate love for us by sending us His Son, and has foreshadowed it by the sacrament and the union of marriage.

So when we look at divorce it is, on a similar level, a denying of the sacredness of this greater union which we were eternally made for. Indeed many have tried and failed, while others have succeeded, to attain the vision of marriage that the Lord teaches. So as we reflect on these profound truths let us be reminded, and strengthened, by the closing verse of the Gospel today. Whatever our own failures are or have been. However we have fallen short or felt short-changed, or been left feeling broken and empty, we need to come to the Lord with a child-like trust, to seek His help.

His plan and his truth remain, and we must announce it and celebrate it, no matter what. God is calling us to himself, to an eternal intimacy, by the visible and tangible sign of marriage. Are we open to Him, as little children, “for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.”

Scripture readings for reflection:

Genesis 2.7, 15, 18-24

Psalm 128

Hebrews 2.9-11

Mark 10.2-16