Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – September 22

Joseph is the Biblical image of the just man

Joseph is the Biblical image of the just man

Central Idea: Loving persons over things. Doctrine: Three forms of justice. Practical Application: Becoming more just.

For Lectionary 135, click here.

Central Idea: Loving persons over things

Reading 1 Am 8:4-7

  • The Seventh Commandment is “Thou shalt not steal.” Some steal by cheating. Some take advantage of persons in need. The Old Testament condemns these. God will never forget the injustice of defrauding the poor.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8

  • The Church has a “preferential option for the poor” (CCC 2448) based on God’s own predilection for them. God is “highest” and around him are “princes,” yet God will exalt the lowliest to his level.

Reading 2 1 Tm 2:1-8

  • Paul seems to be saying that the best environment for evangelization is a peaceful community in which people are left alone both by the authorities and by rabble-rousers and mobs. If we Christians are able to lead quiet and tranquil lives “in all devotion and dignity,” it will be easier for others to come to the knowledge of Christ’s saving truth.
  • To have such an environment, we should publicly pray for everyone in our community, regardless of whether they are of the Faith, including the civic authorities. This we do in the General Intercessions at Mass.

Gospel Lk 16:1-13

  • We want security so as to be free from worry.
  • But follower of Christ or not, every human being faces the same problem. Can we ever have enough so that we never need fear going without and ever be so secure that no danger can touch us?
  • There are only two sources of security for most of us. It is either God or wealth. Which one will we be devoted to?
  • The “children of this world” are those whose master is money, and they are clever in gaining and keeping wealth, like the unjust steward. The “children of light” are those whose master is God. We should be equally clever in gaining and keeping God.
  • Our Lord tells us that we can achieve this goal of gaining and keeping God by using our wealth wisely: “Make friends with yourselves with dishonest wealth.” In other words, use whatever worldly goods you have honestly and in service. Those merchants Amos condemned were the exact opposite of this.
  • When it comes to gaining or using wealth, if our parents, or spouse, or children, or friends, or employer, or country want us to do something contrary to the will of God, we must “hate” that thing they want and “love” what God wants.
  • We must subordinate worldly goods to the will of God, which ultimately means giving them all away.

Doctrine: Three forms of justice

  • Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor” (CCC 1807). Justice is when we give persons what we owe them. A society is just when everyone gives and receives what is owed.
  •  “Justice toward God is called the ‘virtue of religion’”(CCC 1807). Because of who God is and what he has done and can do for us, we owe him thanksgiving for blessings received, sorrow for our sins, adoration for his goodness and greatness, and petition for all needs.
  • There are three kinds of human justice, each of which is required.
  • Commutative justice refers to the strict obligations that exist between individual persons. For example, when you get a job, you agree to do a certain kind of work and your employer agrees to pay you a certain wage. “Commutative justice . . . requires safeguarding property rights, paying debts, and fulfilling obligations freely contracted” (CCC 2411).
  • Legal justice “concerns what the citizen owes in fairness to the community” (CCC 2411). In our day, legal justice is usually spelled out in legal codes, like criminal law.
  • Distributive justice “regulates what the community owes its citizens in proportion to their contributions and needs” (CCC 2411). For example, a society owes protection to its vulnerable members.

Practical Application: Becoming more just

  • “The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor” (CCC 1807).
  • Because of original sin, we want to seek our own advantage to gain pleasure, or status, or security, or wealth. A short cut to advantage seems to be injustice. But “right thinking” means to see things the way God does, which begins with recognizing what we owe to others.
  • With the help of grace, we can grow in the virtue of justice by reforming our thinking and conduct.
  • We can begin by looking at our relationships with other persons and asking if we are giving them what we owe them or if we are being unjust in some way.
  • Here are some questions we can ask ourselves in the presence of God:
    • Am I giving the most important person, God, what I owe him? Do I thank him; say sorry when I do wrong or see the wrong others have done; worship him; and ask him for my needs and the needs of others? Do I obey the precepts of his Church?
    • Am I giving my parents what I owe them? What about my spouse? My children? My employer or employees? My friends and neighbors?
    • Do I obey the just laws of my city, state, and nation?
    • Do I oppose injustice directed toward myself and my neighbor? Do I refuse to cooperate with unjust laws and actions?
    • Do I work toward greater justice in my community, especially when it comes to those most vulnerable?
  • Every one of us is vulnerable to the inclination to act unjustly toward God and neighbor. What a good thing it would be to identify even one unjust practice of ours and to reform our behavior with God’s help. There would be rejoicing in heaven if we did this.

 

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