Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Priorities
The complexities of modern living require us to look closely at what servesĀ  to ensure that we obtain best value from the opportunities open to us. Today's readings remind us that our ultimate values should relate to our spiritual well-being, and we should apply ourselves to this task with the same shrewdness that we employ in pursuit of material goals.

Amos 8: 4-7: Amos, angry old farmer and sometime prophet vigorously denounces the scandalous immorality of the business wheeler-dealers of his time who unashamedly took advantage of the difficult economic conditions to exploit the poor and the needy, despite the counsels of the Covenant.

Timothy 2: 1-8: Here St. Paul reminds his companion that the dedicated follower of Christ cannot be totally self-centered, but must be concerned with the community, particularly by encouraging people to be united in prayer.

Luke 16: 1-13: In praising the shrewdness of the dishonest steward, at the same time condemning his immoral behaviour, Christ expresses regret that people are unwilling to be equally concerned about spiritual values as the steward had been for his material well-being.

Point 1: There are few people who, if they really want something, and it is attainable, will not rise to the occasion to achieve that particular goal. Our best efforts are geared to two factors - our abilities and our degree of motivation. So, we constantly see people setting their sights on goals and going after them. It may be something extra for the home, a promotion at work, a date with someone whose company and friendship appears desirable. Invariably, the pursuit of such goals will involve the co-operation of others. To gain this, we set ourselves to foster the right contact, to drop a hint here and there, even bring pressure to bear to attain our goal. More than anything else, though, we recognise the need for discipline if our goal is to be achieved. We clearly identify our priorities.

Point 2: "Discipline" - the very word derives from the word "disciple", meaning one who is engaged in a learning exercise. And this is the point of today's parable - to get our priorities right. Religious thinking acknowledges that we are made up of "body" and "soul". In a well structured life style, the needs of one as much as the other must be considered; but, because the "soul" relates to eternity, its needs should take precedence. The final measure of our "success" is where we stand before God. This is the ultimate assessment that counts. Again the words of St. Luke come to mind -"[Luke 9:25] What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

Conclusion: Most of us think that we are fairly shrewd; that to catch us out, you would have to get up early in the morning! And, even if caught once, it would be a case of "never again". "Once caught, twice shy"! Maybe, maybe not!. Reading of the "scams" that are carried out regularly through all levels of society, one can wonder. On reading the gospel today, I have a sneaky suspicion that Christ is saying -"If you are so smart, how come you are so dumb about spiritual values? How come you have not understood that real success in life is being able to gear the present to eternity"?

Scriptural reference: Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and of people. [Prov 3:3-4]