25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Readings: Amos 8:4-7; 1Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
(Parable of the Unjust Steward, Jan Luyken)
Perhaps, you are puzzled, confused, disturbed, or shocked after listening to this Gospel reading; and especially the praise of this bad steward. How can an employee cheat his employer, manager cheat his master and still get appreciation for his cunning dealings.
Luke 16:10 “Whoever is faithful in very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”
Jesus is speaking about practical things, things that happen in our everyday life. Each one of us deal with money, make financial transactions, either big or small. We own things of others and make our life.
What is the mind of Jesus while he gives us this parable: The parable of the dishonest manager?
Amendments and corrections in one’s life are very important. Even if they come towards the end of one’s life still they are very significant.
Just like that thief who at the last minutes of his life on the cross realised his mistake and asks Jesus in saving his life (Luke 23:43).
The master praises not the way his steward managed his things, not his earlier dealings but in order to save himself at the last moment at his job, he makes amendments, becomes gentler to his debtors. Begins to build relationships. That is what catches the eye of the master.
What must have felt early Christians reading this parable?
Dismay! The path early Christians have chosen is important, now is the time to be part of the new Creation.
What is the meaning for us today the Christians of 21st Century?
We are not masters of ourselves, interdependency is the hall mark of our Christian life. Relationships matter in our everyday life. We make best use of the things for the greater good. We should ensure our future, our future in God
Jesus also tells us how to utilize of our material goods for the greater glory of God.
Christ talks of two realms in the Gospel: the realm of the “children of this world” and that of the “children of light”. The parable, while using what is an extraordinary image in the setting of the realm of the children of this world, is really about how God acts for his purposes in us, who are “children of light” and how we should act for his purposes in that realm. If the wicked of the children of this world can use the resources at their disposal for their selfish ends, how much more should the children of light should be able to use the resources at their disposal for the purposes of the God whose resources they are.
Children of light are those who are spiritually enlightened contrasted with children of darkness.
The New Testament speaks of light and darkness.
Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel (5:14) “You are the light of the world.” Again, Matthew 8:12 “but the children of the kingdom will be thrown out into the darkness outside, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.”
In John 12:36, Jesus says “while you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
These week days we have been reading Epistle to the Ephesians. St Paul writes to Ephesians 5:8 “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; behave as children of light,”
In 1 Thessalonians 5:4–5, St Pauls says, “but you, brothers, do not live in the dark, that the Day should take you unawares like a thief. No, you are all children of light and children of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness,
There is so much criminality in business and corruption is rampant. In spite of social welfare, the poor and the needy continue to be exploited and trampled on. It’s reminder that there is a judgment. The very existence of social welfare is the result of social imbalances in the distribution of a community’s wealth.
Prophet Amos who lived in the 8th Century BC speaks about justice and justice of God in the first reading that we heard.
And yet some are even critical of the existence of social welfare. “Let them work hard like the rest of us!” One is reminded of the late Bishop Helder Camara of Recife in Brazil. He was an outspoken critic of injustice in his society. He used to say: “When I give money to the poor, they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist.”
Any diminution of human dignity (which demands a certain minimum material standard of living) cannot be tolerated by the conscientious and loving Christian. Some have been given more talents than others (and the Gospel clearly recognises this) but these gifts are to be used not to get more for oneself but to offer more for the building up of the Kingdom community. The greater our gifts, the greater our responsibility to share them with those who have less.
We need to be constantly reminded that we are the stewards and never the owners of what we possess. We have no absolute right to anything we have. “I can do what I like with my money and property because it’s mine” is not a statement any committed Christian can make.
But what is that message here? We are stewards of God’s creation. Everything we have, be it material wealth, or the gifts and talents that God has given us, or even our life itself, everything belongs ultimately to God. Just as we count money, God too counts, but he counts us how much good we do, how sincere, honest we are. He will, one day, call each of us to himself and require from us an account of our stewardship, and so we must be astute stewards.
God wants everyone to be saved and at the judgment what counts is our sincerity, honesty and goodness (see Luke 16:14). We have to count on our Lord, be the imitators of Him. Only then God will also count us and allow us to be part of His life, part of eternity (see John 14:2).
- Olvin Veigas, SJ