The Entrance Antiphon today reminds us of God’s unselfish love.
“’I am the Saviour of all people,’ says the Lord. Whatever their troubles, I will answer their cry, and I will always be their Lord.’’
It is God who depend on us, to be there for Him, when His people cry out to Him for help. God does not wish yet another generation to behave as the people of the Old Testament did in the time of Amos:
‘’Listen to this, you who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people of the country, you who say, ‘When will the New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn… buy up the poor for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat?’The Lord swears by the pride of Jacob, ‘’Never will l forget a single thing you have done’’ (Amos 8: 4-7).
The tenderness expressed in Psalm 112 below, one of three psalms sung annually during the three great Jewish pilgrimage festivals: Pasch, Pentecost and Tabernacles, illustrates how important the cause of the poor was to God and the Jewish People.
‘’Who is like the Lord, our God,
who has risen on high to his throne
Yet stoops from on heights to look down,
To look down upon heaven and earth?
From the dust he lifts up the lowly,
From the dungheap he raises the poor
to set them in the company of princes yes,
with the princes of his people.’’
This psalm illustrates the gentleness which God expects of his people when they are answering the cry of the poor – a gentleness which enables the poor to retain their dignity.
All of today’s Readings are nudging us towards a deeper commitment to Gospel values. Today’s Gospel (Lk 16:1-13) reminds us that our God ‘’is a jealous God.’’ Anyone who is committed to Him, cannot at the same time allow themselves to be enslaved by wealth. Remember the story of the rich young man who was invited, but unwilling to sell what he had, give to the poor and follow Jesus? He went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. And in the Acts of the Apostles we read: ‘’There is more joy in giving than in receiving’’ (Acts 20:35).
Pope Francis never tires of speaking and writing about this joy:
‘’Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have toreach out to others and seek their good. In this sense, several sayings of St. Paul will not surprise us: ‘The love of Christ urges us on’ (2 Cor 5:14); ‘Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel’ (1 Cor 9:16).’’ (cf., The Joy of the Gospel: Apostolic Exhortation, 11. 9 ‘The Delightful and Comforting Joy of Evangelising’ (2013).
The Spirit plays a key role in helping us to be God to one another. One day we might hear, ‘’All I have is yours.’’ And on the next, ‘’I have no hands, no eyes, no feet, no heart but yours.” On another day we might be reminded, ‘’I am you and you are me and we are one.’’
Our oneness with God is clearly expressed in Matthew (25: 35) ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink … I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’’
I remember an experience I had about 40 years ago. I was attending a spirituality and human development course. At one point the group leader asked the participants, ‘’Who was God for you today’’? When it was my turn to speak, I shared what had happened on my way to the meeting: I was driving and noticed that the car was low in petrol. I pulled into the nearest petrol station and by the time I reached the counter it dawned on me that I had no money. I explained my situation to the manager, promising that I would pay on my return journey. He agreed.
I told all present at the meeting that the manager was truly God for me at that moment.
Twenty years later I found myself driving in a different area, again without money on an almost empty tank. This time the manager was far from friendly. When I had given him the information he requested, he told me that he would inform the Guards if I did not return with the money before closing time. I was given sufficient petrol but this experience lacked the ‘’glow’’ of the first. The feeling of not being trusted wasn’t pleasant. For the poor too, the way we are present to them is often more important than the material goods given.
In the text above, Amos asked his People to, ‘’ Listen.’’ Psalm 94 implores us to do likewise.
‘’O that today you would listen to His voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah…’’
‘The Father of mercies has given us an example of unselfish love in the suffering of his only Son. Through your service of God and neighbour may you receive his countless blessings.’
Sr Caitriona Geraghty OP