Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we heard from the passages of the Sacred Scriptures, reminders for us all to be astute in our actions and dealings, keeping in mind that everything we say and do, everything we commit in action and in our every interaction, all of these are things that we will be held accountable for. Each and every one of us have to account for the good things we do as well as for the evil and wicked things we committed. Not only that, but we will also be held accountable even for those things that we fail to do, whatever we did not do whenever we have the opportunities or the capacity to do it. And as Christians, all of us are challenged to live our lives worthily in the manner that our faith can be inspiration for others all around us.
In our first reading today taken from the Book of the prophet Amos, we heard the Lord speaking through Amos to His people regarding the wickedness committed by some among the people, in tricking and manipulating others for their own personal gains and advantages. He spoke to them regarding just how wicked those who sought profits by cheating on their customers and those who patronised their businesses, by overcharging them for their goods and services, simply because they knew well how to do that, using the means of this world to gain advantages for themselves, building themselves up more material possessions and wealth built upon the sufferings and losses from others.
At that time, the people of God had lapsed away from the path that the Lord showed them, and they were following their own paths and ways in life, refusing to listen to the prophets and messengers whom God had sent to them in order to remind them and help them to turn away from their sinful paths. They persecuted the prophets and rejected them, including that of Amos himself, whom the Israelites and their king ridiculed and the latter told Amos to go back to the land of Judah and not to prophesy anymore in the land of Israel, because Amos always brought them the harsh premonitions and warnings from the Lord, telling them how they would all suffer because of their sins and rejection of God.
But they would then have to account for all of their many sins, having been constantly reminded by the Lord and told to change their ways, and yet they still persisted in their wrong path. The Lord said to Amos and therefore to His people how the wicked would not prosper in the end and would perish, because by their wickedness they would be judged unworthy by God, and will be cast into the eternal darkness and suffering. The Lord has already warned them all many times, but they still hardened their hearts and minds against Him. In the end, because of their rebelliousness and refusal to listen to God, they have only themselves to blame for their predicament and fate.
Those people knew well the ways of the world, and they had wisdom and intellect, knowledge and understanding not only that of the Law but also the prophets and the messengers of God. Yet, they did not do as what they have been told to do, and chose to follow the ways of the world and what was wicked in the eyes of God and man alike. And this is linked well to what we heard in our Gospel passage regarding the parable of the dishonest steward. In that parable we heard the Lord speaking with a story of a dishonest steward who was dismissed from service by his master because of his dishonesty, and who therefore went to do things to ensure his survival by discreetly and unlawfully forgiving the debtors of his master, hoping to gain favour with them after he was dismissed.
And we heard the Lord saying that the master praised the servant for his astuteness and ability to use whatever was in his disposal to help himself, and then afterwards, the Lord also said that this was an example of how those who have immersed themselves in the ways of the world, would always be predisposed and tended to follow the ways of the world, and if one had been dishonest or flawed in their judgment and actions, then they would tend to continue being dishonest and evil in their actions, unless they make the conscious effort to resist the temptations and pressure to do so. And the Lord Himself also said that if we have been dishonest in small things, then who will entrust us with great things, then this is a reminder for us that if we walk in the path of disobedience and sin, then we will have no part in God’s grace and glory.
In our second reading today, in St. Paul’s Epistle to St. Timothy, the Apostle wrote of how everyone are called to be good, to obey God’s will and to live worthily of God, and to discard from themselves the traces of anger, dissension and other things that often prevented us from finding our way towards God. That is an exhortation and reminder from St. Paul for each and every one of us to turn away from worldliness and reject the excesses of worldly desires and greed, as well as resisting the temptations of our pride and ego, which often can become our downfall unless we put our conscious effort and commitment to the Lord wholeheartedly, rejecting the efforts and works of Satan and his allies in trying to subvert us to the wrong path.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the words of the Scriptures today and as we discern and reflect on their meaning and messages, each one of us are reminded that as the Lord Himself said, that we cannot serve both God and Money. Either we will love one more than the other and despise the other one, or vice versa. And that is why we have to moderate our actions and discern carefully our path in life, so that we may not end up rejecting the Lord and living our lives in sin as many of our predecessors had done. If we are not careful then we may end up going down that slippery path out of which escape may be quite difficult. And not only that, but our actions will be held accountable on us if they caused scandal for the Church and our faith, and made others to fall into sin as well.
That is why each and every one of us are reminded this Sunday to live our lives from now on with genuine faith in God if we have not done so yet, and to be truly committed to Him and not just merely paying lip service to Him. Unless we truly believe in the Lord through our every word, actions and deeds, and unless we embody our faith in our every living moments, in our every interactions with one another, then we are no more than hypocrites and those whose lukewarm faith are not what is expected of us as Christians, and worse still, as I just mentioned, may even bring about scandal to the Lord’s Holy Name and His Church. Do we want to gather for ourselves the favour of the world at the expense of our souls? Or do we rather seek the Lord and His salvation despite having to endure suffering and rejection in this world?
Let us always keep in mind, brothers and sisters in Christ, that whatever we gather, gain and accumulate in this world do not and will not last forever. They can be tempting and alluring to gain for ourselves, but at what cost? Do we want to gain the world and its joys, only to lose our souls, that we enjoy a temporary period of joy only to suffer an eternity of regret and damnation in hell? We are all reminded to make our choice and stand today, and not to delay any longer. For the more we allow the temptations of the world, the allure of desires and evils to distract us from the path towards salvation, the deeper we will end up being dragged into the wrong path, and in the end, we may find ourselves being unable to escape.
Let us now therefore discern carefully our path forward in life, and do whatever we can in our everyday living that even in the smallest things we do, we will always glorify the Lord by our lives and be good examples and inspirations for one another. Let us all draw ever closer to God and continue to be faithful to Him, and not be swayed by worldly temptations or any pressures and coercion to move away from Him. May God be with us always, and may He strengthen each and every one of us, that we may always live ever more worthily in His presence, at all times, and be good role models and inspirations for one another. Amen.