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Bishop's Homily for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 18, 2022

[Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu; Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Chapel]

I can see the media spin on it now!  “Jesus says swindling your employer is acceptable, as long as there is some benefit in it for you!  A new teaching contradicting the prophet Amos and others!”  If such a thing ever happened, it would be taking Jesus’ words out of context.  It would be easy to conclude that, since Jesus is speaking positively about this steward, he finds what he did perfectly acceptable.  In fact, Jesus was commending the dishonest steward not for his dishonesty, but for his creativity.  Even Jesus gave the devil his due, and recognized that “the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

Last week we remembered the horrible and tragic events of September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed planes into buildings to do the greatest amount of damage possible.  While we condemn such an inhumane and terrible act, no one can say that those terrorists were not very clever in their plan and its execution.  We might even imagine Jesus using this very example and exhorting his followers, not to be terrorists, but to carefully plan and execute the task he gives us, of proclaiming the Gospel to all.

One of the major diseases affecting the world – worse than any pandemic caused by a virus – is the lack of faith in God.  Many people cannot understand that there is a life beyond this life, a life that is eternal, a life that will either be blissful or horrific, depending on the decisions we make.  Many people cannot believe that there is such a thing as absolute truth, facts that are true for all times, all ages, and all people.  We are living in what Pope Benedict XVI called a “dictatorship of relativism.”   It is no longer the case that people can believe what they want to believe, but now we are told what we must believe and what we must think and say because it is what our prevalent culture dictates.  This is the consequence of not believing in one God, the maker of heaven and earth, and the one who knows best how the world should function, because he made it and loves it.

We see that the perennial truth that all life is precious is undermined when it comes to abortion or assisted suicide.  We who hold life sacred are mocked and branded medieval.  We are told that if one does not support abortion, one is anti-woman.  Those who are pro-abortion simply will not recognize that at least half the people who are pro-life are women!  We also know how easy it is for a child’s father to walk away and become an absent or “dead-beat dad,” and so there is the insidious notion that women’s equality is based on their ability to become “dead-beat moms,” to simply walk away from their children by undergoing a short surgical procedure.  You have to hand it to them, these tactics have been very effective, though devastating to children.  Jesus challenges us to do the right thing but to do it more creatively.  Otherwise I am afraid we will be condemned to our divisive rhetoric by which we shout at each other, “Abortion is wrong,” or “Abortion is good;” “Yes, it is!; “No it isn’t!”

Another serious manifestation of this erosion faith in God is the erosion of our respect for authority and its role in keeping order in our society.  Lately there was an editorial in the local newspaper about parents who bully teachers and administrators.  We should not be surprised at this when we allow our media to be almost exclusively focused on failures.  Yes, clergy can commit grave sins, politicians can be corrupt, teachers can be abusive toward their pupils, and we need to be honest about these problems and call these servants to good stewardship.  But the constant amplification of these faults of some leads us to forget about the majority who are good clergy, honest politicians, and teachers who truly love their students.  A culture of suspicion overcomes a culture of trust.  “Honor your father and mother,” a commandment of God, is constantly eroded, and the result is obvious.  Jesus wants us to be creative in telling the good news by supporting those in authority who truly are good stewards.

We are all here because we do believe in God, and that is a wonderful thing.  True, we are not perfect, but we at least know what is right and wrong and try to live it.  I wonder sometimes whether Jesus, our Master, would dismiss us from his service because we keep this Good News of God’s love to ourselves, not challenging ourselves to be creative in how we can share it with our families, our friends, and our culture.  There are no ready-made answers, but Jesus strongly suggests that we might learn about creativity from this crooked steward, not to do wrong, but to be more clever in doing the right thing and bringing its influence on society.  He knows how important his message is for the welfare and salvation of all humanity, and he gives us his Holy Spirit to be our creative inspiration and the energy that keeps us engaged, even when it is difficult.