31st Week in Ordinary Time
So that . . . they may welcome me.
Anyone who is a waiter or in a service profession knows the value of using “soft skills”—good communication, approachability, empathy—to ensure customer loyalty and build a safety net of relationships. It seems that the dishonest money manager in Jesus’ parable had learned the same lesson: you attract more people with honey than with vinegar. So when his master fired him for squandering his wealth, he knew he needed to fix his relationships with people in the local community in order to survive. His motive may have been self-serving, but at least he understood that being generous and merciful would gain more for him than extortion. And Jesus commended him for his shrewdness.
What this dishonest steward did for selfish reasons we can do for godly reasons. Showing mercy is always a good strategy, particularly in our parishes. The church you attend is your Catholic “home,” the place where your brothers and sisters in Christ gather to celebrate a family meal. It can be easy to think of Mass simply as “my time” with Jesus, but Jesus doesn’t just dwell in the tabernacle. He dwells in everyone gathering with you. That includes the cantor who sings off-key, the family with unruly children, and the guy racing out of the parking lot in front of you. How you treat your fellow parishioners is an important indicator of your relationship with God.
As important as it is to put money in the offertory basket, it is also important that we adjust our attitude toward any parishioner we think is being inconsiderate. What better way can we create a space of fellowship and unity in our parish? What better way to honor the time when we all receive the grace and power of Jesus?
At Mass this Sunday, at the Sign of Peace, try to make sure you’re at peace with the people around you. If someone or something is nagging at you, ask Jesus to help you put it aside and focus on building up the unity of your parish instead. Whatever challenges you may face, know that Jesus will help you to respond with love. Remember, he loves every person standing around you just as much as he loves you.
“Jesus, help me to see your face in every person I will encounter at Mass this Sunday.”
Word Among Us