Gospel Lectio Divina for Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 18, 2022

By David Kilby

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

READ

Lk 16:10-13

Jesus said to his disciples: "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon."


MEDITATE

The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones

Humility is a theme that runs through many of Jesus’ teachings. We may think we know what humility is, but as soon as we try to exemplify it we run the risk of being insincere in our attempts. Who doesn’t want to be considered trustworthy in great matters? Perhaps someone who has true humility. Someone who has true humility will know that he has to start out small and work his way up. In considering himself unworthy to take on larger responsibilities, in Jesus’ eyes, he is actually exactly the right candidate to be entrusted with more. Humility has many attributes, but one of its most important attributes is austerity or simplicity. Humility is okay with having just a little, and in valuing the treasures of heaven over the treasures of the earth. Trustworthiness is a treasure of heaven. Greed, on the other hand, gets in the way of one’s attempt to be trustworthy, because greed tends to chip away at our desire to earn someone’s trust, as we value some earthly treasure over that someone’s trust. 

Jesus’ calling to be humble highlights the value of desiring a small part over desiring a large one. His advice complements the passage about the banquet gathering we heard a few weeks ago, when he said to take a lowly seat rather than seeking an esteemed seat. In both instances, Jesus is calling us to be humble enough to claim a lowly position in our lives, to not assume we are important. Then, when others see that we value more than our own esteem, more opportunities will present themselves.

In our attempts to be humble, we should avoid being timid and bashful. The one who proves trustworthy in small matters, and the one who refrains from taking a seat of honor, has higher thoughts on his mind than those who seek to highlight their own importance. He is not concerned about what seat or what role is assigned to him, because he has his eyes on the virtues. To him, making the world a better place can be done from any position because it requires–before anything else–personal sanctity, which can be achieved from anywhere. 

If our attempts to be humble make us lethargic, if they make us say “I’m in no position to make this change that’s needed”, then we are mistaken. If we play a minor role somewhere, whether in our parish, organization, company, or whatever, and we see that something needs to be done, it is still our duty to do all that we can to make that positive change. Our small role is no excuse. We can still make large contributions even when we are only entrusted with small matters. As St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “We cannot all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love.” And it’s those small acts of kindness that are treasured by heaven. Those who matter most see them, and those small acts of love are what make a real change. That is what Jesus means by being trustworthy in small matters.

No servant can serve two masters.

But why would I want to serve any masters? In our autonomy-driven culture, where most people strive to be as independent as possible, having any master sounds like an archaic idea. Some people may say we all have a master, because if we don’t serve someone then we are serving ourselves and, therefore, we are our own master.  But I don’t buy that argument. The person who is “his own master” can refuse to do the very thing he expects of himself, and then proceed to give himself no punishment. That is, in fact, how many of us live today. Why would anyone do something simply because someone told them to do it, even if that someone is themselves? There has to be some motive. Even when we follow the law, we do so only because we fear the consequences, whether they be the real danger of breaking the law (like speeding and getting in an accident) or the punishment (getting a ticket). So the idea of having a master is foreign in modern society, just as having a lord is foreign. We don’t call anyone master, and we don’t do whatever someone tells us until we’ve weighed the benefits of obeying and the consequences of disobeying. Either way, our obedience is value-based. We decide to be obedient because we are being practical, not simply because the one we are obeying is our master. The concept of sheer obedience, as one would show to a master, is nearly unthinkable. A child may be purely obedient to a parent, guardian, or teacher, but even that is rare. 

So what is Jesus talking about here? Clearly we live in very different times, and it’s hard to apply the concept of having even one master to today’s standards of living–let alone two! Who would want to have two masters anyway? Yes, we would be divided. But on top of that we would be inundated with twice as many obligations as we would if we had just one master. But the way Jesus is talking makes it seem like it’s good to have a master, so long as it is only one. 

And it is good if that master is the Lord our God. But that’s it. No one else is worthy enough to be our master. When we put the Lord first in our lives, all other relationships fall in their right place. We then do not have to worry about disobeying anyone else, because by obeying the Lord we are already conforming to all that matters: justice, goodness, truth, the virtues, and everything else our master represents.

You cannot serve both God and mammon.

It’s very difficult to serve the Lord with money. Many of us have tried, but get sucked into the money side of things. We then claim that the money is a means to serving the Lord, because without it we can’t serve him nearly as well. But is that true? It’s one or the other. Jesus is right. Let me use an example. A Christian company starts a marketing campaign to raise money for its next project. In that campaign, they use popular strategies like trending keywords, tracking links and click funnels. None of these strategies are bad in themselves, but what if that company started changing their message in order to conform to those popular trends in order to make more money? For instance, noticing that Christian concepts are not common search topics, the Christian company changes the topics of their campaigns and blog posts–abandoning many those Christian concepts–while hoping to get more views and clicks. When we compromise the Gospel message for reasons like this, we are trying to serve two masters. It’s difficult enough to serve God. Let’s not complicate things by trying to do so by serving money as well. In trying to serve both, we won’t succeed at either. But if we serve money, we will wind up empty-handed in the end. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).  

 

PRAY

Lord Jesus,

I call you my master because you love me. You are the only one who has truly given me all that I seek. Why I so often go away and look elsewhere, I do not know. I’ve tried serving other things, I’ve tried living a life of autonomy. None of it compares to the joy of just being in communion with you, under your command. Your command is gentle, clever, inspiring. It doesn’t even really feel like you’re commanding me when I do your will. It just feels right. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


LISTEN

To be obedient is to listen and do as we are told. That is difficult when we do not trust that the one commanding us knows what is best. But that is why we must listen. When we learn to listen and listen well, we begin to realize the reasons our master is telling us to do what he is telling us to do. With faith comes understanding. I know, we want to know beforehand. And how can we be certain that we aren’t just training our minds to conform to the master’s way of seeing things? The answer is in this part of lectio divina. When we listen, we aren’t just reflecting on the words we read. We aren’t just taking in the Scriptures. We’re taking in everything around us: the air, the four walls, the people we are with, everything that happened today, everything we see, think and feel. We cannot hide from God, and God is not hiding in Scripture alone. He is hiding everywhere, but we have to listen to find him. Then we see why he should be our master. It’s because he is already the master of everything else. 

 

Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.

                        Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit

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What Is Lectio Divina?

Lectio divina means “divine reading” in Latin. It is a way of praying with Scripture that has been used by faithful Catholics for centuries. In the Middle Ages, monks practiced lectio divina to commune with God through his word. Now the practice is used by religious communities and laypeople. The method of prayer can be broken into four parts: reading, meditation, prayer and listening.

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