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February 21, 2017

It’s all about the economy!

It’s all about the economy! Politicians are always on about it. As the economy goes, so goes the whole nation! One TV commercial even talks about a beer economy where beer becomes the means of exchange and the measure of value. For Christians too, it’s also all about the economy, but of a different kind. It’s not the economy of financial growth and prosperity; it is not the economy of rampant consumerism and profiteering; it is not the “selfie” economy of narcissism and the exaltation of the ego; rather it is all about the most enduring economy of all – the economy of salvation. This economy is not subject to recession; it is not subject to inflation and interest rate fluctuations; there are no housing market bubbles, no insider trading, and no match fixing.

Contrast this with the secular economy that is prone to all manner of abuse, corruption and social injustice. Today’s readings tell us about responsible and responsive stewardship. Whether in the private or public sector, at the corporate or personal level, we must have an eschatological (last judgment) consciousness in the way we conduct our daily business. The Lord is emphatic that no one can be the slave of two masters. We cannot serve both the Lord and mammon (the spirit of money) at the same time. We are either on the way that leads to life, or on the one that leads to perdition. It is a war and there is no demilitarised zone, and no ceasefire.

In this war, my dear friends, there is no playing the ostrich, turning a blind, or sitting on the fence. We either live for ourselves, or we live for Christ. If we live for ourselves, we enhance the culture mammon, greed and self-centredness.If we live for Christ, we promote the reign of justice, love and solidarity.Everyday is a chance to show our love for God and loyalty to his Christ, or our love for self. Every moral decision is a fundamental option for or against Christ. True discipleship means we try as hard in using our talents to promote the Gospel, as the worldly people strive to make more money for their own selfish ambitions, live big, and make the right social connections. We are challenged to be shrewd in building the economy of salvation, just as the world strives to build the economy of mammon. The Lord wants us to employ the same astuteness as the unfaithful servant but with a different objective in mind. We should use money but must never be slaves to it. Like fire, money is always a good servant but never a good boss.

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In the First Reading, prophet Amos speaks against those who rob the poor by embezzling public funds. The message of Amos is so relevant to our times given the level of poverty, disease, underdevelopment, and social chaos that ravage the vast majority of the world’s populations. It is a message to businesses that price-gouge their customers; those individuals and companies who fudge the books to beat the tax office; the big pharmaceutical corporations who put profit above human life and dignity; doctors who have no respect for human life at its most vulnerable stages; the media people who make news and profit at the expense of human dignity and privacy; lawyers who use their talents to pervert the course of justice; those in the community who lie in order to get more welfare payments; the police who endanger public safety by tipping off criminals; the parents, teachers, carers and ministers of religion who take advantage of those in their care.

We are called to manage our gifts prudently, so as to earn just rewards in the end. There’s a few things we can do!

  1. A) Our prayer life: We need to pray daily, to have a daily quiet time when we can speak to our Lord, reflect on the scriptures, or do some spiritual reading. Our prayer needs to be sincere. Going through the motions or just rattling off ready-made prayers is not enough. Our prayer should give us the impact of grace in our hearts.
  2. B) Our Talents: We need to use our God-given talents to enhance the economy of salvation. Our education, our artistic skills, our musical talents, our gifts of speech, our leadership qualities – all come into play.
  3. C) Our material goods: We must be generous in supporting the works of evangelisation with our material riches. Every Christian worthy of the name is required to provide financial assistance to the mission of the Church, according to their means. When we help the poor we make friends in the highest places – in the heavenly quarters.
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So it’s all about the economy – the economy of salvation – using our talents and material resources to build the kingdom of God. We should never be afraid to invest our money in the stocks of heaven. The riches of this world will surely fail one day. But we can use them to gain eternal favours, as the unfaithful servant in the Gospel passage tried to win favours through his dishonest cleverness. We can turn our resources into heavenly treasures by serving in our parish, reaching out to the poor, or spending time with a new immigrant or lonely neighbour. We can be sure that Jesus will praise us just as the master praised the unfaithful servant.

May the Holy Spirit help us to be wise stewards today; to imitate the kenotic (self-emptying) love of Christ; to give the Lord and his Kingdom our best efforts, so that we may gain the benefits of the economy of salvation…Amen!

 


 

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