Trust in Jesus, and put love first Print
Sunday scripture column

Jem Sullivan

Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Am 8:4-7
Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8
1 Tm 2:1-8
Lk 16:1-13

"You can't get second things by putting them first; you can get second things only by putting first things first."

"Put first things first, and we get second things thrown in: Put second things first, and we lose both first and second things."

These words of C.S. Lewis, the well-known Christian writer, capture the essence of Luke's Gospel message. They remind us that putting God first is the way to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In fact, putting God first is the only path to true Christian discipleship.

"You cannot serve both God and mammon," says Jesus at the conclusion of the Gospel reading. After telling his disciples the parable of the dishonest steward and even praising the dishonest, yet prudent, steward, Jesus calls his disciples to single-mindedness for God.

But what exactly is "mammon"? We might stumble on the word "mammon." It seems old-fashioned and archaic. But is it simply an out-of-date word, or a word that is especially deserving of our attention today?

Jesus warns his disciples, and us, that a master-servant relationship demands a certain single-mindedness. "No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other."

I don't know about you, but these are pretty strong words. Jesus speaks forcefully as he calls for our undivided attention to the things of God.

As one might guess, the word "mammon" refers to money, material wealth, and earthly possessions. It is all the man-made things of the world that compete for our attention, our desire, and our dedication.

But Jesus is not denigrating the goods of the earth. Wealth and earthly possessions are neutral in themselves. They can serve good or bad ends. So what does Jesus wish to purify in his disciples so that we grow in friendship with God and love of neighbor?

Given Jesus' warning, we could say that "mammon" refers to much more than just objects we desire, own, and possess. Jesus points to the deep recesses of the human heart where we choose God or that which is not of God.

The innermost depths of our conscience and the act of worship lodged deep within us. It is the place of decision to put God first as the priority of my life's thoughts and actions.

It is in that interior place, known only to God, that we decide who we will serve -- God or that which is not of God.

Another way of understanding the word "mammon," is to take stock of what you put your trust in.

On the surface, we can identify the people and things we trust in who are part of our daily relationships and responsibilities.

In sum, God is love, and to put God first is to put love first.

Jem Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

Pope's September Prayer Intention Print
In 2019, the Pope will present one prepared prayer intention per month, rather than two.
Pope's September Prayer Intention

The Protection of the Oceans

That politicians, scientists, and economists work together to protect the world’s seas and oceans.


Daily Scripture Readings Print
Sunday, Sep. 01, 2013 -- 10:21 AM
Click here to view or subscribe to the daily
Scripture readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
Holy Days of Obligation Print

The following are Holy Days of Obligation for 2019.

Holy Days of Obligation Description
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God
Thursday, May 30
Ascension Thursday
Thursday, Aug. 15
Solemnity of the Assumption
Friday, Nov. 1
All Saints Day
Monday, Dec. 9
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Wednesday, Dec. 25
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Prayer to St. Raphael Print

photo of Pilgrim Icon of St. Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners.

We beg you, assist us in all our needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the "medicine of God" we humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of our souls and the ills that afflict our bodies.

We especially ask your guidance of our diocese as we journey toward the rebuilding of a cathedral bearing your name, and the great grace of purity to prepare us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. As our intercessor, beg the Blessed Trinity to prosper the work of our hands and, above all, to bring us, face-to-face, into their Holy presence.


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