26th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            Today’s second reading from the Letter of St. James is a call to look beyond what we have and see something more, something deeper: that is, to see God’s intent and purpose for giving us what we have. Here, St. James writes about Christians who have gained their wealth by injustice, who have used their wealth selfishly, who have cheated their servants. He condemns those who have lived in soft luxury and lived for lust and pleasure – forgetting social responsibility. James is saying something we must take seriously: Selfishness always leads to the destruction of the soul.

            However, James’ point is wider than that one instance of injustice, of selfishness or greed, of cheating the poor. He is somehow posing a profound question: What are we doing with what God has given us? From this question come other questions: Do our money and financial means, our material riches and possessions, our access to various resources, our natural talents and abilities benefit the kingdom of God? Do we use what we have for God, for the realization of his Kingdom, for the spread of the Good News? Do we place our material resources in the service of God and of our neighbor? Or do we use them only for ourselves, only for our selfish wants and desires? Do we see the means and resources we are given as personal possessions or private properties only, or do they benefit others?

            Today’s second reading calls us to look at what we are doing with the assets, material, or spiritual, which we are given. It is condensed in the three questions St. Ignatius of Loyola asks in his Spiritual Exercises: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What should I be doing for Christ? To adapt a phrase from years ago, “Ask not what the Lord can do for you, ask what you can do for the Lord.”

            Right here, right now, what are you doing for Christ? Your answer to this question needs to be backed up by concrete evidence and practical proofs. Your answer must be supported by how much time and energy you put into knowing Christ more deeply and more personally so as to make him known to others, not just by what you say, but how you live your life for the Lord and for his mission You answer must be confirmed by how much you spend for the realization of the Kingdom Christ came to establish – a kingdom of goodness and kindness, of mercy and compassion, of justice and peace, of generosity and love. Your answer must be corroborated by your commitment, passion and courage to proclaim Christ’s Gospel, especially on your social media platforms, and in your daily encounters and conversations. Your answer must be validated by your ministry in the community and service to others, especially the poor.

            Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers (and sisters) of mine, you did for me.” So, your answer must be authenticated by what you do: To feed the hungry, not only with material food, but with attention and consideration, care and concern; Did you nourish them with godly things? To quench your neighbors’ thirst for understanding and acceptance for who they are, with warts and all. Did you help them to satisfy their need for God’s love? To welcome the strangers, the lonely, the rejected, the ostracized, the losers. Did you make them feel accepted when they were feeling unwanted? To clothe the naked with decency and respect. Did you protect their dignity as God’s children? To care for the ill, including those who are sick because of depression, abuse and addiction. Did you help them with their mental health and spiritual wellbeing? To visit the imprisoned, to give them a second chance, and help them as they try to redeem themselves. Did you help in their restoration? To treat the poor with mercy and compassion. Did you show and extend practical charity to them?

            Again, my dear friends, each of us must ask: What have I done for Christ? What am I doing for Christ? What should I be doing for Christ?

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