Exactly What We Need

First Reading: Philippians 4:10-19

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice greatly in the Lord
that now at last you revived your concern for me.
You were, of course, concerned about me but lacked an opportunity.
Not that I say this because of need,
for I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself,
to be self-sufficient.
I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

You Philippians indeed know that at the beginning of the Gospel,
when I left Macedonia,
not a single church shared with me
in an account of giving and receiving, except you alone.
For even when I was at Thessalonica
you sent me something for my needs,
not only once but more than once.
It is not that I am eager for the gift;
rather, I am eager for the profit that accrues to your account.
I have received full payment and I abound.
I am very well supplied because of what I received from you
through Epaphroditus,
“a fragrant aroma,” an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 112:1B-2, 5-6, 8A AND 9

R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
the just one shall be in everlasting remembrance.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.

Gospel: Luke 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

The Pharisees, who loved money,
heard all these things and sneered at him.
And he said to them,
“You justify yourselves in the sight of others,
but God knows your hearts;
for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.”



I have Pinterest boards filled with drool-worthy kitchens, laundry rooms, mudrooms, and backyards. Our fixer-upper of a house is nice but wow—would I love to put some of those Pinterest plans into action. That’s the dream. The reality, though, is that we basically live paycheck to paycheck. New tires for the car, new glasses for a child, more diapers for the baby, dental work for my husband—these take precedent and I am grateful that we are able to provide for our happy family. The reality is that our good-enough house is a love-filled home.

Of course having pretty things is not a sin—it’s morally neutral. But the reality that you don’t see but God, who knows our hearts, does see is that I want the pretty things partly because I want them to impress you. I am ashamed to admit it and I hate when I relate to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, but I share this embarrassing secret with you in hopes that we can all do better together.

In our First Reading, we see that Saint Paul knew how to live both in humble circumstances and in luxurious ones with a joyful acceptance of what God gave him. He knew beyond a doubt that God would provide exactly what he needed. I don’t know how long it took him to master the virtue to know and trust that, but it’s my goal, too.

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Let us ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with generosity, gratitude, and humility so that we may serve and love God, not money and human esteem.

photo credit

Bonnie Engstrom is a writer, baker, speaker and homemaker. She lives with her husband and six children in central Illinois. You can find out more about her here.

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