Christ Defends the Poor and the Oppressed
Readings: 1st: Am 8:4-7; Ps: 112:1-2. 4-8; 2nd: I Tim 2:1-8; Gos: Lk 16:1-13
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this twenty fifth Sunday of ordinary time, the Church enjoins us to reflect on our attitude towards money, material things, and especially, our attitude towards the poor and the marginalized. Injustice, greed and oppression are among the greatest factors that has perpetuated poverty in our society.
In today’s first reading, the prophet Amos condemns injustice and oppression against the poor. He wrote at a time when the rich took all the land and “enslaved” the poor in their farm lands. They exported food in order to make more money for themselves, while the poor starved and died of hunger.
Today, we are faced with similar situations all over the world. While some cannot afford one meal per day, others waste money on useless projects. Sometimes, the excuse we give is that the poor are lazy, or that there would always be poor people in the world. These are weak excuses. The truth is that there is much greed, injustice, and corruption in our world.
Today, Paul implores us to pray for every one especially, kings, rulers and leaders in government. This prayer is necessary for conversion and for wisdom. If our leaders are converted and become wise, they will help to stop corruption, injustice, and oppression in our land and systems.
This is very important because as Paul puts it: “God wants everyone to be saved and reach the full knowledge of the truth.” This truth is, that there is only one God, and that we all are His children. He loves us all equally, and wishes that we all prosper and be in health, even as our soul prospers.
Once we understand this, selfishness will disappear, and we shall begin to consider the interest and good of others. It is the will of God that we all should be saved. This includes being saved from starvation. It means being saved from injustice, greed and corruption that has destroyed our world and left many poor.
In the gospel, Jesus reminds us of the fact that money and material things do not last forever. Hence, he advices us on how to make use of them without losing our salvation. There is a saying that: “The best way to invest is to invest in the poor.” We should therefore learn to invest in the poor in order to improve their conditions. Amassing wealth for ourselves without using them to help those in need only amounts to greed and selfishness.
Money and wealth have value only when they are wisely used to help those around us. Only fools hold tenaciously to money and wealth above God, and to the detriment of the poor. Also, only the ungodly use their wealth to oppress the poor and the weak. This is because, they are like “the fool who says there is no God” (Ps 14:1).
On the contrary, the wise use his wealth to help those in need and so, stores up wealth for himself in heaven. Therefore, it is important to know that when we are blessed by God with wealth, we are only its manager. Wealth is given to us for the purpose of helping and improving the lives of those in need. It is not meant only for us and our families. So, we must be charitable with it.
Finally, we must not manipulate the poor and the needy for economic gains. This is because, any form of injustice or oppression against the poor or the weak cry’s out to God for vengeance as the blood of Abel did (Gen 4:10). Christ is the defender of the poor and the marginalized. As the palmist says: “He raises the poor and lifts the lowly from the dust.”
Peace be with you all!