Weekly Reflections

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time: September 25, 2022

RICH AND POOR (Amos 6:1a, 4–7)

The gap between rich and poor is uncomfortably large. If you can read, you already have Advantages over many other people in the world. If you worship in a church building and have printed copies of bulletins and worship aids, you have resources far beyond those of many others.

Most people are unaware of their privileges. They do not live in the squalor of poverty. They forget it is there, except in photographs and letters of appeal. They see the gap between themselves and those who are richer, but they ignore the gap between themselves and the poor.

The prophet Amos had no patience with the rich. They lived a comfortable life: They lay on beds of ivory. They ate meat. They played music. They drank wine by the bowlful. They anointed themselves with the best oils and perfumes. They had it all and used it all. They showed little concern for the poor.

Amos could envision another society, a society in which the rich shared. Those with more resources have more responsibility to help those who have less.

The rich who thought they had it all lost it all in the exile. When Jerusalem was taken into captivity, invaders took interest in the booty of the rich. The poor had nothing. They had nothing to lose. But the rich lost it all.

Our possessions hold us captive to our desires, to our fears, and to ourselves. Freedom is in giving, not in possessing.

THE NOBLE CONFESSION (1 Timothy 6:11–16)

We do not always stand up for our beliefs. We say the poor have rights, but we do not always vote on their behalf. We want an end to world hunger, but we do not encourage our elected officials to end it. We want peace on earth, but not without a little revenge.

Sometimes we succumb to the lesser values of others. We eat foods we should not. We drink more than we should. Some people abuse illegal substances. It is hard to stand up for our beliefs in the midst of a crowd that thinks otherwise.

But we must. The First Letter to Timothy says, “Pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” We want to, but it’s hard. “Compete well for the faith,” the letter continues, as if it can read our heart. Our faith feels like a competition. We want to do the right thing, but it is easy to fail. We have to compete for our faith.

The letter recalls the testimony Jesus gave under Pontius Pilate. At a time of trial in every sense of the word, Jesus remained firm and gave testimony for “the noble confession.” He lost his life, but he gained the world.

When we take a stand for our beliefs, we may lose friends, support, popularity—or life. But we gain peace of mind, a firm heart, and the confidence that God looks kindly upon us who—in times of trial—made the noble confession.

Lectionary Bulletin Inserts: Reflections on the First and Second Readings, Year C © 2019 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications. All rights reserved. Written by Paul Turner. Lectionary for Mass © 2001, CCD.