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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

25th SUNDAY -C- September 22, 2019

Amos 8: 4-7; Psalm 113; I Timothy 2: 1-8; Luke 16: 1-13

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

WELCOME to the latest email recipients of "First Impressions," the Sisters of the Holy Family in Fremont, California.



Nothing gets our attention like a crisis. You’re driving a long listening to music, thinking about the family gathering you are going t,o when smoke starts billowing from under the car’s hood. Or, more seriously: you go for your usual annual physical and the chest X-Ray reveals a dark spot on your lung; you feel a tightness in your chest and your left arm begins to tingle; it’s 3 am and your phone wakes you, it’s your sobbing son or daughter; your company downsizes and you lose your job; you get injured on the playing field and there goes your hopes for an athletic scholarship; even more distressing....the sudden death of someone you love.

At a crisis moment every thing else takes a back seat, while we address the pressing issue at hand. We ask ourselves: "Now what will I do?" "Do I have to handle this alone?" "Where can I turn for help?" "What do I need to do before this day ends?"

If we have our wits about us, or someone is with us to give us good counsel, we evaluate the situation; look over our physical and emotional resources and try to respond as best we can. Because we are people of faith, we surely pray for wisdom to know what we must do and the strength to do it. (Someone asked a friend of mine, "What is the simplest and best prayer?" And she responded, "Oh that’s easy.......HELP!")

Nothing focuses us like a crisis, when we realize the pattern of our accustomed lives has been changed for good and without our consent!

An economic crisis, as many are experiencing these days because of the trade war, can profoundly affect our lives. It was an economic crisis that faced the steward/manager in today’s gospel. He was caught, we are told, for squandering his master’s property. We are not told how...or what he did.... Perhaps he was a thief. Perhaps, he was just incompetent. We don’t know. But it was crisis time for that steward. And we know there is nothing like a crisis to make us focus on essentials and what’s right before our eyes.

Steve Covey wrote a best seller: "7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

It sold to a lot of people dealing with professional problems – managers and executives. But it became a best seller. A a lot of other people were drawn to it, because of what the title suggested. They wanted to be, "highly effective people" in their daily lives The very first habit Covey lists of highly effective people, would fit the steward in today’s parable story. Highly effective people, he advises, must "Be proactive, take the initiative and be responsible." That’s our steward isn’t it?

He sees his job is about to end and he is in crisis. In a desperately poor society laborers were a throw-away commodity, easily replaced by other desperate laborers, if they got hurt, or killed on the job. The steward admits, being a laborer is not an option for him...he’s too soft. To go out on the streets and beg would shame him and his family. Yes, he is in a crisis.

So, as Steve Covey suggests, he becomes PROACTIVE, TAKES THE INITIATE AND ACT RESPONSIBLY. We heard what he did. While he was still in his position as steward he discounted debts owed his master. Sounds dishonest, doesn’t it? But what he probably did was eliminate the commission due him from those debts. And in doing that, he was making friends – those debtors would be grateful to him and, he hoped, when he was dismissed, they would, "welcome me into their home."

In case we missed what Jesus was suggesting, he says, "For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of the light" That‘s what Jesus calls us: "The children of the light!" He gives us an example of a man who has a crisis, focuses on what he has to do and does it. And then, it is as if Jesus is turning to each one of us who have heard this story and says: "And what about you? Are you acting prudently in your life – focusing on what and who are important? Or, are you letting lesser concerns consume your best energies?"

Jesus isn’t telling us a parable about a shrewd business-minded person as a lesson on how to be "highly effective people" at work. Rather, he wants us to be, in Steve Covey’s terms, his "proactive followers" – disciples who take the initiative and act responsibly in our relationships with him and the world around us.

This is something we know: The world is a hard place to be a Christian – raising a family is a balancing act; our jobs can demand so much from us, and consume our best energies; relationships can get neglected and become stagnant. Plus, with all that, it’s hard to keep a balance and keep things focused on what is really important and what’s the "small stuff."

Being a follower of Jesus is not a part time job, or a side occupation – it is a full time commitment and covers all aspects of our lives, not just what we commonly call our "spiritual lives." We have to live in our world and have to evaluate the resources at our disposal. How can we be creative in the use of what we have? Upon hearing the challenge of today’s gospel, to be faithful in all parts of our lives, we have to ask ourselves: What is my fundamental and total identity: is it being a Christian? Then, how can I put that into practice at all times and in all places?

At some moment we will all face a crisis of one kind or another. Most of us know that already... from personal experience. We don’t want to have to put off getting focused till a crisis forces us to do so. We want to be "proactive, take the initiative and act responsibly. It is our hope that at the end, Jesus will also find our lives commendable and bless us for acting prudently – not just when we were in crisis, but each day of our lives.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/092219.cfm

QUOTABLE


To be faithful to the covenant means to practice the justice implied in God’s liberating activity on behalf of the oppressed.

---Gustavo Gutierrez, OP

 

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land!. . .Never will I forget a thing they have done!

(Amos 8: 4-7)

Clearly the prophet Amos speaks out against those who oppress the poor. Because the poor have no voice, God becomes their advocate. God is the God of the poor. It should make us, as a society and as individuals, rethink how we take care of the poor and what we are doing to create a more just world. The poor are the first to be affected by climate change and abuse of resources. Our challenge is to view the world through God’s eyes and then, address what is wrong.

I know I have written before Pope Francis’ words in "Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home," that "everything is connected." He goes on to say, "Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society" (91). We need to be more conscious of this interconnection in our daily lives.

In the book, Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, one of the writers, Satish Kumar, speaks about Mahatma Gandhi. Kumar writes, "Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ He believed that there should be integrity between theory and practice, between word and action. Words gain power only when they are backed by a living example." Kumar goes on to describe Gandhi’s day where he integrated "prayer, meditation, solitude, study, gardening, cooking and spinning and considered these activities as essential as negotiating with the British rulers of India, organizing the campaign for independence and working for the removal of untouchability. . .a perfect example of care of the external world with the care of the internal world" (Golden Sufi, 2016, 143). You can say, I am not Mahatma Gandhi. However, you can strive, as Kumar notes, to care for the soil while you also care for the soul--yours and others. "The inner landscape of spirituality and the outer landscape of sustainability are intricately linked" (ibid, 144).

As Christians, Jesus is our penultimate guiding example of a person who cared for both soul and soil. Think about how often Jesus went apart to pray; how often in parables he describes creation to make his point; how he challenged unjust systems that disadvantaged the poor.

"Never will I forget a thing they have done!"

--Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus said to his disciples,

"For the children of this age are more prudent

In dealing with their own generation

Than are the children of light"

Reflection:

Being a follower of Jesus is not a part time job, or a side occupation – it is a full time commitment and covers all aspects of our lives, not just what we commonly call our "spiritual lives."

Upon hearing the challenge of today’s gospel, to be faithful in all parts of our lives, we ask:

  • What is my fundamental and total identity: is it being a Christian?
  • Then how can I put that into practice at all times and in all places?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • John Henry Thompson #0406487 (On death row since 11/14/02)
  • Terry Moore #0290634 (6/14/03)
  • Jeffrey Neal #0113234 (9/6/03)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

 

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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