First Reading:Wisdom 9:13-18
Psalm:Psalm 90:3-6, 12-13, 14-17
Second Reading:Philemon 9-10, 12-17
Gospel: Luke 14:25-33
Save more than you spend. One of the wisdom that children need to learn is how to be responsible with money. The first rule of thumb is that if we want to buy something big, we need to save more than we spend. Some parents teach this lesson by giving their children small allowances for taking out trash or helping with the dishes. The child quickly learns that if he wants to buy a $20 Gameboy cartridge by the end of the month, he needs to save up all of his $5 weekly allowances and not spend it on anything else. But the parents will miss a valuable teaching moment if they go ahead and buy it for them without any work or sacrifice. Would you buy a child a $300 Xbox if he only has $10 saved up? The child will surely have a misconception that money grows on trees.
Unfortunately because of the wide use of credit cards, many of us adults also have misconception that money grows on trees. We assume that we can pay it later. This year, our combined credit card debt in US is about $60 billion. That's about $9,000 of credit card debt per household. This does not count our mortgage debt which amounts to $6.8 trillion. And who is lending us all this money? If you did not already know, countries like China and European nations are lending us big portion of this money. All of us in this country needs to relearn how to save more than we spend, because we forgot to first sit down and calculate the cost to see if we have enough.
Do we really need to watch what we spend if there are plenty credit card and mortgage companies who are willing to lend? Yes. There is always a possibility that we cannot pay them later. We can lose our job or fall sick. Then we may face bankruptcy or foreclosure. Because of our irresponsibility with money, everything that we own will be auctioned off to some strangers.
I wonder if we treat God's grace like a credit card. We assume because God is merciful and loving, he will always lend the grace to us. We assume that this grace will never run out, so we keep borrowing from him without concern about paying him later. Soon, we take God's grace for granted. We assume that we can miss mass anytime we want, not go to confession for long stretch of time, and not even touch our rosary beads or not spend anytime on our knees. But scripture reminds us that when God pours out his grace on us He desires to see his grace to bear fruit in how we live. At the end of our life when we face God, will we have anything to show for all the grace that we have received? Did we use God's grace to live a humble and simple life, dedicating our life to serving and loving others? Did we strive for holiness using God's grace, resisting temptations, and coming humbly before God to beg forgiveness of our sins? Will God recognize us as his own child, or will we hear from him, “I do not know where are you are from.”
Jesus reminds us again in the Gospel how to be a responsible disciple. It's a common sense that if we're going to build a tower, we'd better have enough money to finish, or else. And if we are going to wage a war, we'd better have enough soldiers to win, or else. Likewise, in order to be a responsible disciple of Jesus who take God's grace seriously, we have to renounce all of our possessions. He said, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, and even his own life, cannot be my disciple.” The 'hate' that Jesus is talking about is a radical reorientation of all of our loves, affections, and relationships. God has given us our family, friends, and possessions as a gift for a single purpose—to strive to transform ourselves in this life as a child of God, to live up to our calling as an image made in the likeness of God. This week, Jesus is exhorting us to take a look at how we are using God's grace in our life.
Can we honestly say that in each of our relationships we are honoring and bringing greater glory to God? Can we say honestly that the way we use each of our possessions brings us closer to God? God's grace is not to be squandered like a credit card but to bear fruit in our life of holiness.