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Saturday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
“And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings. Anyone who is trustworthy in little things is trustworthy in great; anyone who is dishonest in little things is dishonest in great. If then you are not trustworthy with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you are not trustworthy with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own? No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and jeered at him. He said to them, “You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as upright in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, make my heart more like yours. Grant me the grace to turn away from the mentality of the world and love all things according to your heart.
- Dichotomy of the Heart: Today’s Gospel continues from the passage of the previous day’s Gospel reading, but goes deeper into the heart of the steward. Jesus speaks about the person’s focus. It cannot be divided. It is either set on God or set on money. It cannot be set on both. In St. Ignatius’s spiritual exercises, he sets up this dichotomy of the heart as well, inviting the retreatant to recognize the quality and consequence of each one’s invitation and consider under whose banner he or she wishes to stand, under that of Christ or that of the enemy, Lucifer. One leads to true life and the other, while apparently attractive, leads to death. Jesus, places this dichotomy before the Pharisees as an exam of conscience for them, as a glimpse into the deeper motives of the heart.
- Conscientious Choices: Jesus calls us to make a choice. It is not a matter of rejecting money, but of a deeper conscious choice of our use of goods. St. Ignatius called that indifference. Far from not caring, it is caring precisely about what matters. How we make use of the goods that we have at our disposal makes a difference. And even more importantly, the relationship we have with created goods matters. Is our heart seeking them for personal gain? For selfish motives? Or are we capable of making use of them in light of an eternal vision, for the glory of God and for the immediate building of God’s Kingdom here on earth? Our conscientious choice is a matter of the heart. It essentially determines what we are truly seeking.
- Esteem: “What is highly esteemed in human eyes is loathsome in the sight of God.” This paradigm is foreign to us. Psychological and emotional esteem, at the expense of maintaining authenticity, is promoted around every corner. It is one’s daily bread and butter to hear that we should do what makes us feel right, that we should not be shamed for our choices, that we must feel ourselves worthy no matter what we do. While these can be misguided statements filled with relativistic untruths, there is an underlying truth at the center: we are fundamentally good and worthy of being loved. Nonetheless, our choices do matter because, made in God’s image, we are called to choose that which leads us to what we have been created for: eternal life, union with God. How different would our motives be if the eyes we felt upon us were our loving God’s instead of the world’s? How different would our choices be if the voices we heard were those of Christ inviting us to an intimate friendship, despite having to reject the ego-affirming voice of the world?
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I choose you! Help me to be aware of the underlying motives of my heart. Grant that I may perceive the interior movements that give away the ego’s personal pursuit and reject the enemy’s suggestions. Grant that I may hear your voice and follow, despite the sacrifice.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will examine my deeper motives and recognize what is moving me: human esteem or a choice to glorify you.
For Further Reflection: https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/kevin-obrien-sj-on-the-two-standards.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala and “Nine Days with Mary Magdalene.”