Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Few lines in the Gospel arrest ones attention like what we here today. “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” (Lk 16:9) St. Bonaventure (1221-1274), one of the great Franciscan Doctors of the Church, gives a clear explanation of these words of our Lord. First, Jesus is not saying that one can use wealth for a good end if that wealth has been gained through unjust means. As the book of Sirach says, “The Lord does not approve the gifts of the unjust […and] the one who offers sacrifice from out of the living of a poor man is like one who sacrifices a child in the sight of his father.” (Sir 34:23-24).

Second, St. Bonaventure teaches that our Lord is exhorting us to take our unnecessary surplus (whatever each discovers that to be), and give it to those in need, so that our mutual love will be all the greater in heaven. There, the Lord says, “my people will sit in the beauty of peace, in the most secure dwellings, and in plentiful rest.” (Is 32:18) This was the kind of concern that the Philippians showed for St. Paul and which he was so happy to receive. As he wrote: “It is not that I am eager for the gift; rather, I am eager for the profit which accrues to your account.” (Phil 4:17)

May we be given the grace of hope that our concrete acts of love to one another in this life will bind us more closely in the Lord both now and for all eternity.

November 8th, 2014