September 22nd 2019

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Contents:

  1. Parish Bulletin for Holy Family
  2. Newsletter for St Benedict's
  3. This Sunday's Readings
  4. Sunday Reflection

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This Sunday's Readings

FIRST READING             From the Book of the prophet Amos  (8:4-7)

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people of the country, you who say, 'When will New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and sabbath, so that we can market our wheat? Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel, by swindling and tampering with the scales, we can 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 it by the pride of Jacob: 'Never will I forget a single thing you have done'.



SECOND READING         From the First Letter of Paul to Timothy (2:1-8)

My advice is that, first of all, there should be prayers offered for everyone - petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving - and especially for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live religious and reverent lives in peace and quiet. To do this is right, and will please God our saviour: he wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth. For there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humankind, himself a man, Christ Jesus, who sacrificed himself as a ransom for them all. He is the evidence of this, sent at the appointed time, and I have been named a herald and apostle of it and - I am telling the truth and no lie - a teacher of the faith and the truth to the pagans. In every place, then, I want the men to lift their hands up reverently in prayer, with no anger or argument.



GOSPEL READING           Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples, 'There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, "What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer." Then the steward said to himself, "Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes."

'Then he called his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?" "One hundred measures of oil" was the reply. The steward said, "Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty." To another he said, "And you, sir, how much do you owe?" "One hundred measures of wheat" was the reply. The steward said, "Here, take your bond and write eighty."

'The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.

'And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity." The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things can be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
'No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.'


Sunday Reflection 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Whistleblowing

It is a loaded word with perhaps some unsettling overtones. A whistle-blower is a person who informs on another, or others, engaged in secret or illegal activity. 'Whistleblowing' happens for multiple reasons, some of which are genuinely altruistic and personally costly to those involved. Clearly, not all 'whistleblowing' events can be claimed as genuinely altruistic
'It takes one to know one' is an old adage that could preface this 25th Sunday's Gospel (Luke 16: 1-13). Clearly, the denounced steward is an embezzler. But then his denouncers would appear to be, too, as they are shown to be willing to collaborate in his embezzlement for their own advantage. The steward's employer or owner, if the steward were a slave, leaves himself open to be thought of as an embezzler, too, by appreciating the shrewdness of his employee/slave rather than criticizing him for his thieving.

God has gifted each person with a conscience. It is akin to our inner resemblance to God keeping a watchful alertness over all our intended actions and decisions because these affect not only us, individually, but the wider community too. So, our personal conscience could be likened to our personal inbuilt 'whistle-blower' not to inform on us to another but to give us personal advance knowledge of pending controversy resulting from our potential choices. That personal advance awareness may be momentary which is why we need to try to keep our mind and heart as free from interruptive temptation as possible. It being Satan's speciality for distracting us from our Baptismal commitment.

Our whistle-blowing conscience has no executive power because God has granted us freedom of choice. It is, however, our responsibility to keep our conscience informed to help us formulate choices that are in accord with God's will. If responded to positively, the conscience will expand its illuminative ability, thereby helping us to discover more authentically God our Creator will. Likewise, the more it is ignored, the conscience's illuminative role diminishes. The quality of our spiritual life determines the delicacy and consistency of the conscience's ability to alert us when, as a consequence of free choices, we move away from God. Is it possible to evaluate the quality of our spiritual life?
Well, consider this - were all Christians to engage more fully in the pursuit of The Truth and the implementation of real justice, our world would begin to resemble the kingdom to which Christ has called us:
"Jesus told them: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop -- a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear." (Matt. 13:1-9)

It is estimated that we all expend twenty times the amount of thought, time, money and effort on pleasure, hobbies and sport than we do on developing our personal gift of faith and our involvement in evangelisation. How often do we respond to our conscience 'whistle-blower' alerts when we make disproportionate allocations of our resources? Our true wealth consists not in what we squirrel away, but in what we give away especially to those in need. Possessions in themselves are not sinful, but they bring with them a great responsibility for undaunted altruism. Material possessions can be the cement of binding friendships that reveal the real, lasting, values of life - here and hereafter.

Effectively, Jesus is saying that in our limited tenure here on earth, we have custody not ownership. We are stewards of all that this world presents. No created thing here, by its very nature, can be permanently ours because we have no permanence here! Another adage comes to mind: There are no pockets in shrouds. On the other hand, if, please God, we reach heaven we will receive what is really and eternally our own. What we will be given will depend on how we exercised our stewardship of this world's goods during our earthly life.

Jesus tells us that we cannot serve, with an equality of love and application, two masters. Yet nowadays, many working people have to hold down, of necessity, more than one employment in order to support family and dependents or, perhaps, to get a foot on the proverbial 'housing ladder'. Not infrequently it is the multi-tasking person's spiritual life that suffers. The abolition of Sunday as a day or rest did nothing to help. If you remember, initially an employee was theoretically allowed to decline Sunday work for religious reasons. Soon enough, any person making such a request could find themselves either out of work altogether or held back along the promotion trail. The introduction of Sunday trading was a clever ruse that played to Satan's advantage.

So how does the dedicated Christian cope? Being consciously aware of the dilemma is a priority. It means we need to make every reasonable effort to maintain a Sacramental and prayer life in the midst of work. All employed people have allocated times for rest and eating etc. and there are multiple internet sites on phones and iPads that enable a person to have a ten or fifteen minutes of assisted prayer time, with the privacy of ear plugs. The Jesuits, for one example among many, run a highly beneficial and easy to access free service called 'Pray As You Go'. So often people say, "I just don't have the time!" That is the cue for the last conscience-prompted, 'whistle-blown' adage: 'Where there's a will, there's a way' but, please God, it will be in the direction of the footsteps Christ has laid down for us.