Christ the King Catholic Church
In our penitential rite this afternoon/morning we said, "Lord Jesus, you come in Word and Sacrament to strengthen us in holiness." In every Eucharist the Risen Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, comes to meet us in Word and Sacrament. Jesus feeds us not only with his Body and Blood, but also with his Word. Jesus once said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God.
My Mom often said that I was the kid that was born hungry. When I wake up in the morning my first thought is food. I want to know what's for breakfast. We should wake up every morning with that same hunger for the Word of God.
Just like the food we eat; God's Word comes in many types.
There is comfort food, like that bowl of ice cream we might have before going to bed. I think of the 23rd Psalm as comfort food from God. "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want." Or Jesus' words from Saint Matthew's Gospel, "Come to me all you who are tired and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest for my yoke is easy and my burden light."
Some of the food we eat is filled with protein, the building blocks of all the cells in our body. Without protein there is no muscle, there's no strength. I think of a good steak. God feeds us with protein. I think of words like, "This is the first commandment, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Like protein, words like these of Jesus are the very building blocks of our Christian life.
Sometimes God's word is like the vegetables we may not always enjoy, but that we know we really need to eat because of the vitamins and nutrients they give us. I
think of Jesus' words from Matthew's Gospel, "The judgement you give is the judgement you will receive." Or from Luke's Gospel, "If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and offer the other." Even though I don't really like to hear those words, I know I need to hear them, and I need to hear them often, just like I need to eat my vegetables.
"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from the mouth of God." God is a good and a provident Father and the Word he speaks to us provides us with a healthy balanced diet. Sometimes that diet includes comfort foods, but, more often than not, we get healthy servings of proteins and vegetables, as we do today.
The first reading is from the Old Testament Prophet Amos. Amos was a shepherd whom God called to prophesy to the people of Israel. As a prophet Amos didn't have a crystal ball to predict the future. The real work of the prophet isn't to speak of the future. The real work of the prophet is to speak of the present. The prophet helps us to see the present as God sees it.
What Amos saw in the public square scandalized him. He saw injustice. He saw wealthy, over-fed people looking for new ways to amuse themselves, while the poor man, who couldn't pay his debt, could be sold for the price of a pair of shoes. He saw scales in the marketplace being fixed to cheat people.
He went to the religious sanctuaries and shrines of his day and found the rich of his day rejoicing in their good fortune, which they saw as a sign of God's favor, while remaining completely indifferent to the suffering and the needs of the poor all around them.
Amos challenged the people of his day to examine their attitudes. The very people who worshipped God as the protector of the poor, especially the widow and the orphan, had become the persecutors, the oppressors of the poor. They had separated love of God from love of neighbor.
Amos bemoans the idea that there exist areas of our lives that are outside God's concern. That there are areas of our lives that are none of God's business. Many of the people of Amos' day wanted God to be content with the worship they offered him on the Sabbath and be unconcerned with how they lived their daily lives. At a time when many people thought all was well, God sent Amos to tell them that all was not well.
God asks not only for our public worship, but he asks for a private life that witnesses to our profession of faith. The temptation of the people of Amos' day is the same temptation we face in our day and that is the temptation to separate love of God from love of neighbor. It manifests itself in many ways.
We pray to God in our Sunday assembly for justice to be done and we act unjustly. We ask God to end wars, while all the while we are busy instigating them with water cooler gossip. We pray for an end of hunger, and yet we do not share our food with others.
The people of Amos' day had separated their profession of faith from their daily lives. It is a constant temptation for all of us.
Through his prophet, Amos, God challenges us to examine our lives. What we say and do here, cannot be separated from how we live our lives in the coming week.
There is no area of our lives that is outside of God's concern. There is no area of our lives that doesn't matter to God.
In the parable in today's Gospel Jesus doesn't praise the dishonest manager for his dishonesty. He praises him for acting decisively in a critical situation. Every time we hear God's Word, we, too, find ourselves in a critical situation. God's Word calls for a response: To act or not to act.
God challenges us to act on what we hear today. We must not separate what we do here on Sunday morning from how we live our lives in the coming week. We are reminded of this in the dismissal rite of the Mass. As we go forth from Mass today, we will hear these words: "Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life." The worship we give to God does not end with the last note of the last song that we will sing here at Mass today. The worship we give to God continues by how we live our lives throughout the coming week.
God comes to meet us in our Sunday assembly in Word and Sacrament. God feeds us with his Word. "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." That Word, like the food we eat, comes in many types. Sometimes it's like a big bowl of ice cream and, sometimes, like today, it's a plate of vegetables. As much as we might like ice cream, God knows what our Moms have known all along. We need to eat our vegetables.