September 18, 2022: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer by my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. 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 you trust 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 both God and mammon.”
Jesus cleverly uses a parable with his disciples to expound on the principle of being a righteous steward. As we hear about the financial caretaker’s misuse of his master’s resources for his own benefit and of his additional deceptive behaviors, we are indeed amazed that the master’s reaction is to commend him for “acting prudently.” That steward’s initiative and pragmatism, when called upon to give an accounting, served him well in temporal matters and in the eyes of his master whose own integrity might be questioned. We, too, will be required to give an accounting of how we have managed our own talents and gifts and how we have influenced or challenged our government, our church and organizations in their use of resources either in support of the marginalized or in neglect of them and their needs. If we understand the principle that everything we “own” or have at our disposal, are gifts from God, then we know that these resources are to be used to further God’s plans of love, mercy and justice that define the kin-dom of God. We are responsible for discerning our gifts, spiritual and temporal, being generous with them and using them for the glory of God as we share them with others, especially those in great need. And, as stewards, we are obliged to give an accounting to the true owner of all the gifts we have received.
This next week, perhaps we can assess our own faithfulness as managers of the gifts and talents with which we have been entrusted. What do our actions reveal about us? Whom are we serving? What might we want to change?