No place for greed in God’s world

18 September 2022 25th Sunday Year C

Human nature doesn’t seem to change very much. Writing some 750 years before the coming of Christ, the prophet Amos is complaining about the rich and powerful exploiting the poor and oppressed.

In Amos’ time, Israel had become quite a wealthy nation but, as in much of the world today, corruption and greed meant resources were not equally shared among the ordinary people.

As we know, the Church itself is not immune from corruption. As disciples of Jesus, we are called upon to challenge all non-Gospel values whether in the Church or society at large. Going back to Pope Leo XIII (Rerum Novarum 1891), the Church expounds fundamental principles of social justice including dignified working conditions, just wages, the right of workers’ associations (trade unions) and private property, and defence of the poor.

While rejecting communism outright, the document is also critical of unbridled capitalism. Every human society needs to be founded on the dignity of the human person, the common good, and principles of justice and subsidiarity.

Pope Francis speaks more directly about the need for the Church itself to be an agent of social transformation by being “a church that is poor and for the poor”. In a manner reminiscent of Jesus in today’s gospel, Francis tells us “the judgment of the needy, the outcast and the poor prefigures the judgment of God.” He also connects the Church’s call to poverty with Francis of Assisi “the man of peace who loves and protects creation”.

Pope Francis speaks of the inseparable bond between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. Furthermore, he directly links human greed with the breakdown of human community, increase in world tensions, and destruction of the environment.

Calling for a “global ecological conversion,” Pope Francis states that “everything is connected” including the worth of a poor person, the stranger, the refugee, and the cry of nature. He adds that “communion with nature is impossible without tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings”.

In other words, we are called to a spiritual awakening to the reality that human life is grounded in three intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. While Pope Francis is bold enough to address his writings to “every living person on this planet,” he is also calling on the Church to become a more genuine and authentic community of Jesus’ disciples.

Or, in Jesus’ words, let us become more “trustworthy” in the manner we use our resources – money, talents and time – for building up the kingdom of God on earth, rather than building up kingdoms of power and wealth for ourselves. In the words of another parable, let us become “trustworthy servants” who use our gifts in the service of others and as active stewards of God’s creation.

Gerard Hall SM

© Majellan Media 2022

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