Not sure about where you sit,
But for me,
This week’s Gospel
Is like a complicated riddle
Or a trick question
That Jesus just throws out there,
And no matter how much we study
We would fail, miserably
And I questioned,
Just as perhaps you are
Of where the Good News is in our text this morning?
There are contradictions
What is Jesus signing onto?
What is Jesus approving?
This could be fodder for the prosperity gospel crowd
People hear what they want to hear.
This Gospel does not lift up,
Any examples of repentance
Just it seems,
Mammon, in the Greek
In one of my favorite musicals,
Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey sing about
Money makes the world go around.
Money, as the lyrics go,
Is the answer to all of the rejection
We experience in this life.
Hilariously, Liza sings this line-
“When you go to get a word of advice,
From the fat little pastor
He will tell you to love evermore
But when hunger comes rapping at the window,
See how love flies out the door”
The answer then,
Is that Money makes the world go around
Money also stifles
Stresses the world out,
I wonder then,
If Jesus shared this parable with the disciples
Not for their benefit
But for others.
Perhaps Jesus was planting seeds of freedom
To break the roots of the oppressive society
That had embedded itself into the hearts of those,
Who were controlled by money.
What is left out of this Gospel reading,
Is verse 14
Who loved money,
Heard all of this…”
Because of who He is,
And knowing He was under scrutiny
By those who were shaken,
By Jesus Christ
The only way to get to hard headed people, sometimes
Is pushing them into that uncomfortable zone
Where who they are
And what they cling to
Would be tested.
Smacks of self interest
Of getting what you think you deserve
Not even this manager in our Gospel text
Has that privilege,
Even as he was as shrewd,
As his employer,
No wonder then
Tax and debit collectors were on the same low level
As other sinners
Eschewed in moral decay
Remember that from last week,
The same Pharisees were grumbling about Jesus
Eating with tax collectors?
In this era of a Roman occupied Galilee,
The only ones who could actually get away,
With manipulating the system
Were the wealthy
They had the power, and unfortunately the law behind them
To charge exorbitant interests rates
So that they could acquire more land,
Regardless of whom it would end up displacing.
Sort of reminds us,
Of the struggle going on
At Standing Rock
In North Dakota.
Sacred lands were purchased,
Hundreds of years ago
Pushing off Native peoples
And Damaging Creation,
In the name of progress
There are those who would argue
That in Genesis it states,
God created man-listen to the language
God created man,
To have lord and dominion
Ignoring what the Creator God clearly expressed
Just as those who claimed they upheld Biblical convent law
Dismissing those commandments that call us to be in relationship
To care for the vulnerable,
As if they were blood-related
Exodus 22 states
“If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy,
do not treat it like a business deal;
charge no interest”
Charging interest on loans,
Forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors
Humanity misses the mark,
We don’t live this commandment out
Makes the world go round
And causes headaches
We are told the only way to establish ourselves
Is through monetary means
Meaning applying for credit cards
With high interest rates
Thereby granting us access to be approved
For a mortgage home loan
Securing a safe place to live
Access to resources,
As I alluded to last week
And our families
Access so that our children could go to the best schools,
Which sometimes means taking out high interest loans
And when we are over our heads,
Applying for predatory pay day loans,
Just so we can get through the week,
Because the powers that be,
Do not understand what it means
To live within our means.
And that is what is facing this steward,
In our Gospel text this morning.
He’s been living beyond his mean
Through the hard work of the working poor
He’s been fattening his own wallet,
Even as his employer,
Has been overcharging
These fellow people of faith,
Denied an ample living wage
Struggling to thrive
To get a foothold in this society
Wanting to remain authentic
But every day,
Drawing closer to that golden altar dedicated to the idol
And I think this is what Jesus is stressing here-
That clinging to such an idol
Or converting to this economic “religion”
Where the theology is based on greed debt, in many forms
Individualism and selfishness
Having financial resources to live and breathe,
Is not what Jesus is against,
But as Jesus states later on in verse 15
“You are the ones,
Who justify yourselves
In the eyes of others,
But God knows your hearts.
What people value highly,
Is detestable in God’s sight.”
What are you saying?
What people value highly,
Is detestable in God’s sight.”
HIGHER THAN THE SACRED LIFE
That the Creator breathed into each one of us
Because these things separate us
From the presence of the Creator God
It keeps us trapped
In front of that golden, humanity made altar.
He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!
Hear the joyous words of the Psalmst!
Hear the Good News this morning!
Greed disguised under the mask of wealth and status
Demanding of us our very soul,
And giving us nothing in return,
This is not what God wants for us.
God gives us, pours into us
Everything we could ever need!
(end with giving a visual example about what greed would look like as a person and use the Grinch in the Christmas story-what if greed came and removed everything we held dear, so that we would have to come crawling back to that golden altar, living our lives for simply amassing more wealth, no matter whom It hurt. And what if greed was hovering , waiting to hear our cries that next morning, and instead-in the midst of the dawn, Jesus stood in our midst, and all we could do is SING, and DANCE and PRAISE THE LORD-for the ultimate DEBIT HE PAID so that we would never be alone, never want, never question, never feel unloved. And that, is something, that NOTHING HUMAN MADE CAN EVER, EVER REPLACE.)
Thanks Be to God.