Bishop Noonan’s Column

How much do you owe my master?

Luke 16:5

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

In the Scripture readings of the Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, God offers us instruction about being a true disciple by helping us to see the consequences of our straying from God. We hear instruction about the difficulties of trampling the poor or squandering wealth so that we may truly understand the fullness of being ‘rich’ which can only be found in our dependence upon God, one of the characteristics of the Christian disciple.

We praise the Lord who lifts up the poor in Psalm 113 and find instruction in the words, “He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.” Pope Francis reminds us, “The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at His service, so to grow each day in love.”

On September 4, Pope Francis declared Mother Teresa, MC of Calcutta St. Teresa. Saint Pope John Paul said of Mother Teresa at her beatification, “Satiating Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had become the sole aim of Mother Teresa’s existence and the inner force that drew her out of herself and made her “run in haste” across the globe to labour for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor.”

During the weekend of September 18, we are asked to offer our wealth for the holy people we serve in the mountains of our Sister Diocese, San Juan de la Maguana. Sister Bernie Mackay, O.S.U., the director of the Diocesan Mission Office, the staff, and you, through your generous donation of service in the Lord’s name, whether physically, spiritually, or financially, have learned what it means to be a true disciple, by bringing the riches of our faith through generosity of spirit to these beautiful people. They receive the gifts of education, of sound shelter, and of health awareness. They encounter God’s smile because of your presence, your participation in the Eucharist which extends beyond the altar into the streets of the entire world. You have chosen a vocation to charity and as you grow each day in love, so do those with whom you encounter.

In the Gospel parable of the dishonest steward, we are taught the prudent use of one’s material goods in light of an imminent crisis. Certainly, as you generously donated for those affected by the crisis in Louisiana, you learned the prudent use of material goods by offering your financial resources during a special collection; one unexpected because of an imminent crisis.

We also learn that our affection of wealth can only be understood when the wealth we desire comes from God. We must remain in constant fidelity to God alone. If we are dependent upon earthly riches, we will fail as a true disciple. Jesus counsels us to have complete dependence on the Father as one of the characteristics of the Christian disciple. It is the gift of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian faith, He who leads us time and time again to grow in our understanding of heavenly wealth and how we are to live in holiness. The Eucharist is the greatest Gift of God, that of love and unity. As we take the Eucharist, we become engulfed in a unique and profound way with Christ’s presence in his Body, broken, shared and risen in His people now manifested in the Church.

The staff and volunteers of Our Lady of Grace, Palm Bay open up their physical building to people in need in Palm Bay as they have worked in unity with Catholic Charities of Central Florida to expand their outreach. The message of life is so important that Catholic Charities of Central Florida Adoption Services are enlivening that message with the launch of a new website.

Pope Francis said, during the Canonization of Mother Teresa, “Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.

How much do you owe my Master? How much do you owe God? Let us reflect upon St. Paul’s words to St. Timothy, “It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.” May our prayer, in thought, word and deed, bring forth the Master’s riches across the land.

Bishop John Noonan
Diocese of Orlando