Scripture reflections – Sunday, November 13th

Prv 31:10-13; 19-20; 30-31;  1Thes 5: -6;  Mt 25: 14 – 30

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; form the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

If I didn’t know this came from this week’s gospel reading, I’d swear it was taken from a banner at the “America’s Wealthiest One-Percent Gala”.    If you look at the data of how our material wealth has been redistributed over the past generation – with a vengeance during the Great Recession – then this verse captures the essence of American capitalism quite succinctly.   In fact, there are a multitude of Christians  who would embrace this , judging by the icy stares I get from some every time I present the  Catholic social justice principle  about the limited right to private ownership. (The basic idea behind this principle is that I owe my surplus wealth to the poor not out of Charity, but out of Justice.)

Of course (and you knew this was coming) the wealth that Jesus is speaking of is spiritual, not material.   And when you’re dealing with the abundance of Grace rather than the scarcity of goods and services, everything changes.  For the person who chooses to become a conduit of God’s Grace, the blessings grow exponentially.

Think of the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, for example.  What always captivates me about that story is not that Jesus feeds thousands of people with a few fish and loaves of bread.  What’s so magnificent about the story for me are the leftovers –  12 baskets to be exact.   That means there was more food leftover than there was food to begin with!  What kind of ridiculous Grace is this?

If, on the other hand, one chooses to isolate one’s self from this Niagra Falls -like waterfall of Grace, well…..a human being can only physically live for about a week without water.  It takes longer to die spiritually, but sooner or later the result is the same.   Spiritual dehydration.

In a world drenched with the Grace of God this poor forsaken soul – surrounded by piles and piles of material wealth, perhaps –  knows only darkness and drought.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

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