September 22, 2013
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Amos 8, 4-7; Psalm 113, 1-2,.4-6, 7-8; 1 Timothy 2,1-8; St. Luke 16, 1-13
“Make friends for yourselves through your use of this worlds goods, so that when they fail you, a lasting reception may be yours.” The gifts God bestows upon us in this world come with a responsibility to be good stewards of all he has made. These are the little matters he entrusts to us now, so that we may prepare for the far greater good of eternal life.
The Church holds in a crucial balance both the universal destination of goods as well as the right to private property. Both reflect Gods providence, and neither excuse us from sincere and generous charity.
The Church draws her social teaching from the Lord’s instructions in the Gospel parables and other expressions of his law of love.
We are not permitted to reduce our use of earthly goods to the pursuit of profit alone irregardless of other factors. A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable.
“The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order. (Cf. Gaudium et spes, art. 3; Laborem Exercens 7; 20; Centesimus Annus 35.) A system that ‘subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production’ is contrary to human dignity. (Gaudium et spes 65, art. 2.) Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. ‘You cannot serve God and mammon.'(Mt 6:24; Lk 16:13.)” (CCC 2424)
All that God gives is to be shared, but in a collaborative and voluntary way, in accord with the human dignity both of the giver and the receiver of the gift. “The goods of creation are destined for the entire human race. The right to private property does not abolish the universal destination of goods.” (CCC 2452)
“Those blessed with wealth or economic power, whether individuals or nations, are called at the same time to stewardship and active solicitude for the poor, unemployed and dispossessed. Goods of production – material or immaterial – such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.” (CCC 2405)
A principal divine foundation for the right to private property is enshrined in the decalogue itself: “You shall not steal”.
“The seventh commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor and wronging him in any way with respect to his goods. It commands justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruits of men’s labor. For the sake of the common good, it requires respect for the universal destination of goods and respect for the right to private property. Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity.” (CCC 2401)
There are situations, however, when the individual is not committing grave sin where, by appropriating some amount of the private property of an unjust employer, he is merely providing for the basic sustenance of his family or those in his care. This is traditionally called occult compensation.
The Church advocates a living wage for all workers. Withholding just wages can be stealing as well and can put the lives of others in danger. The basic goods to maintain life, shelter and health are a fundamental human right.
“The seventh commandment forbids theft, that is, usurping another’s property against the reasonable will of the owner. There is no theft if consent can be presumed or if refusal is contrary to reason and the universal destination of goods. This is the case in obvious and urgent necessity when the only way to provide for immediate, essential needs (food, shelter, clothing . . .) is to put at one’s disposal and use the property of others.” (CCC 2408)
Social justice on earth anticipates the perfect justice and love of the Kingdom. We are trusted with these little matters now that our heavenly Father may prepare us to inherit, as true sons and daughters of his, the treasure beyond all price: the reign of heaven.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
September 22, 2013
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In order to appreciate fully the import of today’s gospel text, which gives us the parable of the Unjust Steward, we must remember that parables, unlike allegories, focus on only one element in the comparison. Thus, the lesson to be drawn from this parable is that the followers of Jesus must also act prudently in regard to their own future prospects.