Archbishop Nienstedt’s Archdiocesan Youth Day homily

| September 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Archdiocesan Youth Day

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Readings: Amos 8:4-7

1 Tim. 2:1-8

Lk 16:1-13


“Lord, whose love in humble service
Bore the weight of human need,
Who upon the cross forsaken,
Offered mercy’s perfect deed;
We, your servants bring the worship
Not of voice alone but heart:
Consecrating to your purpose
Every gift which you impart.

God is good: all the time.
All the time: God is good.”

The theme of today’s scripture readings is stewardship, that is to say, taking responsibility for the world that God has given to us and everything or everyone in it. In the first reading, the prophet, Amos, is sent to confront the wealthy class of Israel, in order to chastise them for their treatment of the poor. He criticizes them for putting the worldly pursuits of profit and greed before any spiritual value, not to mention the dignity of their fellow human beings. In doing so, he tells them that they have lost their perspective on life and thereby turned away from God. Evidently, they had taken advantage of the poor by their shady and underhanded business practices. Amos makes clear that caring for our less fortunate brothers and sisters is not just a matter of charity, to be embraced when we feel like it. It is ultimately a matter of justice, that is to say, we owe our brothers and sisters our concern and our compassion.

St. Paul, in our second reading, reminds Timothy that God exercises His own stewardship in calling all men and women to salvation. Therefore, no group of people, especially the poor, the strangers, the sick or the outcasts can be excluded from our daily prayer or our daily concern. We are indeed our brothers’ and our sisters’ keeper.

Finally, the Gospel records the parable of “the dishonest steward.” Now the point of the parable is meant to shock the listener by its obvious moral intent. The manager, who is being fired for his corrupt practices, decides to manipulate his way into the good graces of his clients by further devious and underhanded means.

Clearly, Jesus is not praising this man for his dishonesty, but rather for his cleverness and aggressive, enterprising spirit. Jesus obviously wants his disciples to be just as wise and just as enterprising when it comes to their stewarding of the Gospel of truth. He commends the attitude and the drive—not the means or the goal of the dishonest steward.

My dear brothers and sisters, so many of these themes: concern for the poor, reaching out with the Gospel to every person, being aggressive and enterprising in our discipleship, are, in fact, critical points that we have heard Pope Francis emphasize in the first few months of his new pontificate. In fact, I believe the whole world has noted with appreciation his simple lifestyle and his embrace of all people, but especially the poor, the young, the marginalized and the handicapped. But when he was in Rio de Janeiro this past August at World Youth Day, he clarified in a visit to the favelas, one of the poorest neighborhoods of that city, that there are different kinds of poverty that each of us must address. He said,

“Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry—this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for the happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity. There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern the nation, its non-material goods:

  • life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted;
  • the family, the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation;
  • integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit;
  • health, which must seek the integral wellbeing of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy co-existence;
  • security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.”

These words of Pope Francis are, I believe, dear friends, a call to you and to me. We are to be champions for and ambassadors of life, the family, integral education, health and security. We are to promote these causes in the public square because the development as well as the dignity of every human person deserves to share in these goods, not only profiting from them materially, but spiritually as well.

St. Thomas Aquinas is famous for having said, “grace builds on nature.” One specific application of this principle is the fact that human, physical needs, such as hunger, thirst, shelter, often must be met first before one is ready for spiritual conversion, for meditation and for reflective prayer.

My brothers and sisters, I know you have come here today because you love Jesus and you want to perform good works in his name. You don’t want to be a Christian in name only, but you desire to have a faith that is alive and dynamic, one that makes a difference.

And I, as your Archbishop, want the same for you as well. So I urge you to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, listen to the teachings of his Church, practice your faith by participating in Sunday Mass, by spending some time every day in prayer, by getting involved in the activities of your parish or school community, by being prepared to share the reasons why you follow Jesus with every person you meet.

In my pastoral letter, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” published a year ago, I challenged you and every Catholic in this Archdiocese to develop a three-minute and a seven-to-ten minute speech as to why you follow Jesus. The three-minute talk is for a brief elevator ride and the ten-minute talk is for a conversation over lunch or over a pizza. Those are moments when we need to be prepared to respond to other’s questions, their doubts or misunderstandings. This is truly at the heart of the New Evangelization, which is so desperately needed in our time.

In returning to that same talk that the Holy Father gave in Rio de Janeiro on his recent apostolic visit, I would like to make his final words of encouragement my own for all of you,

“To you and to all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement, do not lose trust, do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can change, people can change. Be the first to seek good, do not grow accustomed to evil, but to feed it with good. The Church is with you, bringing you the precious good of faith, bringing Jesus Christ, who ‘came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’ (John 10:10).”

Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, for he will never disappoint, he will always guide us to the fullness of life . . . always.

 

“God is good: all the time.
All the time: God is good.

“Called from worship into service
Forth in your great name we go,
To the child, the youth, the aged,
Love in living deeds to show;
Hope and health, good will and comfort,
Counsel, aid, and peace we give,
That your children, Lord, in freedom,
May your mercy know and live.”

 

Category: Local