The bible readings of this Sunday speak about money and material goods. In the first reading we have the rich who think only about making profit, even through dishonest. Similarly, in the Gospel we have a parable about a steward who is dishonest with his master’s money. Why all this talk, is money a bad thing for a Christian?
- Amos 8: 4–7
- 1 Timothy 2: 1–8
- Luc 16; 1–13
How does your future look like?
Goods of the earth are for our well-being
The material goods are there for our well-being. They are gifts from God and hence to be used by all means. Nevertheless, the readings of today invite to make a little examination: what’s my attitude to material goods? What place does money occupy in my life? How do I gain it? How do I use it?
However, it’s important to bear in mind that in today’s Gospel Jesus is not giving us as such a moral lesson about money or wealth. Rather, he is inviting to check, how passionate and ready am I to act in favour of the Kingdom of God? Am I as enterprising in matters of faith as business people are in money matters?
Lesson from dishonest manager
In the parable of today’s gospel we have a person employed to administer over the wealth of another person. He uses his position to abuse his master’s wealth. He is only a steward but he seems to act as though he was the master himself. When he is denounced the master decides to sack him. While he is still in function and before it’s too late, this dishonest steward acts quickly. He uses his master’s money to make himself friends with people. He knows he is sinking; he prepares a comfortable landing. When the master hears what he done he praises him.
Should we follow the example of this dishonest steward? Yes! Does Jesus approve the deceit of this steward? No! There we are again! Jesus gives us another image that risks upsetting, if not chocking, us. That’s how he signals us, TAKE CARE! There’s something important to note.
The spotlight is not on the dishonesty of the administrator but his smartness. He may be corrupt all right but he still has a sound head. He sees the danger coming and he acts with promptness and tact. He is deceitful but not stupid as he does not wait idly till the disaster bursts open on him. That’s what Jesus praises in this corrupt administrator. In him he admires a quality that seems to lack among his followers as he remarks: “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”
Kingdom vs wealth
The sons of this world once they want something they will pursue it to the end. They invest in it their inventiveness and money. They spare nothing. Just think of how thieves compete with modern security systems! They apply all that is at their command to get their way.
Similarly, I should ask myself as a Christian: is the kingdom of God a priority in my life? Is it something for which I want to apply myself completely? On the contrary, when other things take precedence they become idols. And not only do they take the place of God in my life they also reduce my fellow humans to instruments for profit. Invaded by greed, I distance myself from God and from others. That’s what Amos denounces in the first reading.
Greed in Samaria
We are in Samaria, northern Kingdom of Israel. It’s a time of prosperity but unfortunately not for all. The rich don’t think of anything else apart from making more profit. When they are at prayer or at the religious feast all they think about is: when is this going to be over so that we get to business? They are plotting how they are going to cheat in order to give little but gain more. They are thinking of how they are going to exploit the poor for profit –“…buying a needy person with a pair of sandals.” That’s how money can be a danger. There we have the meaning of money as a good servant but a bad master. Instead of possessing it, it possesses you. You drown in it, you are dead.
The intention of Jesus in today’s Gospel is precisely to wake us up saying, be careful! Act now when there is time to escape the disaster falling. It’s up to each person to see, am I ready to evaluate my priorities and be ready to act differently?
The rich in the first reading their priority is profit. While the steward in the Gospel might have been like them, wasteful and greed, but later he changes. He discovers the importance of good relationship with others. He grows. That should be a consolation to us. Whatever situation I’m in today, change is possible. Now it’s the time to change and to act differently. I don’t have to be corrupt and dishonest like the steward but certainly I need to act like him, with tact and urgency.
Here’s the challenges of today’s Gospel, am I as ingenious and smart as this steward when it comes to matters of Christian life? How am I using what I have today to prepare a comfortable landing tomorrow?