Money, money, money -- it's a rich man's world. After the past year, let's think again. Even the rich have been swept up in the chaos of the worldwide economic downturn.
Read all about it wherever you look. Read all about it in Sacred Scripture. Parables are a good source. Jesus uses them to instruct us. They are meant to turn us upside down, make us think in a new way; make us ask, what is Jesus talking about? Guess what?
One third of Jesus' parables are about money. They make us think about the money scandals of our day. For instance, the parable of the dishonest steward (Lk. 16) who was praised even though he took advantage of the person and people he was serving. What is there to admire about someone who cheats and then adds to the fiasco by cooking the books to make friends? Isn't this just what contributed to the recession we're in right now?
Jesus is not saying that the steward's ruthless ways are praiseworthy, but rather that we can learn from them. The steward knew he was in trouble. If he lost his job, he would be without any livelihood. So, he acts. Not in the most praiseworthy way, but he acts.
Jesus' words in the Gospels are about what is coming for you and me. God's judgment. Are we in trouble? Are we in spiritual danger? Are we where we need to be right now? Is our eternal life in jeopardy? What do we mean by this? Simply put, God wants you and me to be saints.
So, what kind of shape are we in? God is waiting for our decision. Our decision for Jesus Christ is to make a difference in how we live Monday through Saturday, so all of our weekend liturgies and prayers don't become a hollow mockery. Financial institutions have taught us enough already about the impact of empty shells.
Even as our Catholic faith helps keep our eyes on heaven, the practice of our faith has first to do with the here and now. It has everything to do with letting the words of Jesus Christ shape our approach to all events and circumstances and situations in life.
So, what kind of shape are we in? Has the money crisis found us playing games, too? Denying, delaying acting in the spiritual aspects of our lives while the Lord is demanding a decision? Jesus loves us, cares for us, wants everything that is good for us, died for us.
As we approach the end of the Easter season, Jesus wants us to do something now, not tomorrow, not next week. When we see ourselves in spiritual danger, recognize it, make the right determination about it, then, act!
Just like the economy has shaken us from our complacency, we can also be awakened by Good News. That is, Jesus invites all of us at this very moment to act by our corporal and spiritual works of mercy, by praying daily, receiving the sacraments, and doing God's will, always aware of his help whose love is recession proof.
Msgr. Daniel Ganshert is the vicar general for the Diocese of Madison.