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Thursday, 15 September 2022 15:28

Investing in the future

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward who was denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”

Then he called the man’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty.” To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here take your bond and write eighty.”

The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light. And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity.

The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own.

No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’ (Luke 16:1-13)

Reflection - Investing in the future

When bad things happen to us we are apt to spend a great deal of time being angry at what has taken place – especially if we feel that what has happened is unjust, unfair or unreasonable.

Today’s Gospel episode is often called the ‘Parable of the Unjust Steward’. But perhaps he is the one who is being treated unjustly. After all, the Master hears a rumour that the steward has been ‘wasteful with his property’. Without conducting an investigation to find out if the rumour is true, the Master decides to dismiss the steward.

The steward spends only a little time trying to decide what he will do once he loses his job. Knowing he is too weak to dig and too ashamed to beg, he sets about altering the contracts of sale for his masters’ debtors.

Is the steward stealing from the Master? No. In the ancient world such stewards were not directly paid by the master. Their ‘wage’ came from the commissions they added to bills of sale. So the steward is giving up his commission for the sake of his long-term future; to build goodwill among the debtors that they might return the favour in the steward’s coming hour of need.

For astutely investing in his future the steward is praised by the Master. Jesus uses this allusion to advise the disciples that they, too, should invest in their future through the sharing of all that they have.

The term mammon refers not only to money, but to all that a person has. The disciples, says Jesus, should be prepared to give away all that they have to the poor so that when the kingdom comes, in which the poor have the privileged places, the disciples will be welcomed into the ‘tents of eternity’.

The final sayings of this Gospel presuppose that Christian life is a stewardship in which the wealth that one handles is wealth God wishes the whole world to share, not one’s personal possession. Disciples must choose wisely and act decisively. When it comes to wealth, they must choose between the interests of God and their own self-interest.

If disciples do not share possessions, they will not be entrusted with the true riches of the kingdom. If they do share possessions, which are on loan from God, they will be given the treasure of heaven as their own. The disciples must give exclusive loyalty to God or succumb to the enslavement of mammon.

Download to read or print our Celebrating At Home prayers, reading and reflection for this Sunday:

pdf Celebrating At Home 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time [PDF] (2.88 MB)                                 
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