When the Poor Will be Our Witnesses

Pentecost 18 Thursday

Luke 16:9

“Make friends for yourselves by means of the unjust mammon so that they, when you suffer want, may receive you in the eternal booths.”

Some people get stuck on the words “so that they may receive you in the eternal booths” and say: “Look, it says there that they take us to heaven. How is it, then, that you say that we should not turn the saints into mediators before God because they cannot help us get into heaven?” Note well that we have only one Mediator before God, Christ. For this is what Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, namely, the man Christ Jesus.” Likewise, Christ says in John 14:6: “I am the way; no one comes to the Father except by me.” This is why we should not put our trust in any saints, but only in Christ by whose merit alone we and all saints will be saved. This is why I would not give a penny for St. Peter’s merit if it was supposed to help me; it cannot even help St. Peter. Rather, whatever St. Peter has, he has from God by faith in Christ. Now, if he cannot help himself, how should he then do something for me? This is why I must have someone else, namely, Christ, God and man in one person. But why does it say here: “Make friends for yourself so that they may receive you in the eternal booths?” We understand this verse from Christ’s words in Matthew 25:37-40 where he tells us how the King will answer those who will say on the Last Day: “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, without a home, naked, sick, and imprisoned? Truly, I tell you, he will say, what you did to one of the least among these my brothers, you have done it to me.”–Here the Lord indicates who the friends are: they are the poor
and needy. He meant to say: If you have these as your friends, you also have me as a friend; for they are my members. But how will they receive us into the eternal booths, as the text says here? Will they lead us by the hand? No. Rather, when we come before God’s judgment seat, then a poor person to whom I did good will stand in heaven and say: “He washed my feet; he gave me a drink, food, clothing,” and so forth. This poor person will certainly be my friend and bear witness to my faith and put it into words. At that time, a beggar will be more useful to me than St. Peter and St. Paul. For they will not help me then. But when a beggar comes and says: “Dear God, he has done this for me as your member–this will help me. For God will say: “What you have done to him, you have done to me.” Thus, these poor people will not be our helpers but our witnesses, so that God may receive us.

St. Louis ed., 11:1453-1455.

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