Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘There was a rich man who
had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering
his property. So he summoned him and said to him, “What is this that I hear
about you? Give me an account of your management, because you cannot be my
manager any longer.” Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now
that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to
dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am
dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.” So, summoning
his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, “How much do you owe my
master?” He answered, “A hundred jugs of olive oil.” He said to him, “Take your
bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.” Then he asked another, “And how
much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred containers of wheat.” He said to him,
“Take your bill and make it eighty.” And his master commended the dishonest
manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more
shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And
I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that
when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
‘Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in
much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If
then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to
you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to
another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters;
for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one
and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.’
The lesson which Jesus is teaching on this occasion as
reported by Luke, was that worldly people whose interest is in the things of
this world, are much more cleaver and zealous in their task than are Christian
people whose interest is in the things o the spirit. These words of Jesus
warning those who would follow him on the road to heaven not to become the
slaves of earthly things are applicable to all of us.
Most of us may feel that this warning is for millionaires
and business magnates. But Jesus did not say so. There was not a single
millionaire in his audience. He meant it for all of us, for what he warned
against was not the just acquisition of this world’s goods but their unjust
acquisition, and the dishonest use of them when they were justly acquired.
It was God who created all that exists in this world. He
intended these foods for the use of mankind. We are only managers therefore, of
these worldly goods. It is on our way of managing these goods, not on the
quantity we had to manage, that our judgement will be based. Millionaires can
get to heaven while all paupers have no guarantee that they will make it. Jesus
deduces two lessons for us from the parable of the unjust manager or steward.
Firstly, the enterprise which he showed in providing for his
earthly happiness when he would lose his employment was greater and keener than
that shown by most of us in providing for our eternal happiness.
If we take an honest look at last week as an example of our
lives, how many of its 168 hours did I spend on earning merit for any future
life? Granted the 96 hours spent in work and sleep, I still had 72 hours which
I could call my very own. How many of them did I devote to spiritual things?
Did I give one hour a day to god and the things of God,
helping the needy, learning more about my religion, giving a hand in parochial
affairs, advising those in difficulties, spiritual or temporal, praying for my
own and my neighbor’s needs – yet even if I did, it is less than one tenth of
the free time I had at my own disposal.
If I did not, if I barely managed to get in the Sunday Mass
and a few hasty prayers, could anyone suggest that I was showing great interest
and was very enterprising as far as my future life was concerned? God is very
generous with me. He gives me lots of time for providing for my health and
temporal needs each week, and a lot of free time besides. I should not express
surprise if he is disappointed at how little of that wonderful gift of time I
am willing to give back to him. The unjust steward was far more enterprising as
regards earthly provision for himself.
The second lesson, Jesus wishes to teach us is that we
should use what we can spare of our earthly possessions in helping those who
are in need of our help. By doing that we will be making friends who will help
us at the judgment seat to get a lasting reception in heaven.
Remember that description of the judgment which Jesus gave
when he said, “I was hungry and gave me to eat. I was naked and you clothed
me”? What we do for the needy we do for him. Those whom we help as far as we
can will be witnesses testifying for us when our final examination, on which
our eternity will depend, comes upon us.
Two resolutions worthy of our serious consideration today in
relation to earthly goods are: Never let them take up all our time. We have a
far more serious purpose in life. Give it a little more thought and enterprise
than we have been doing.
Next, be grateful to God for what he has given us in this
life. We might like to have a lot more, but God knows best. Work honestly and
be generous with what we have. We are serving God, not money. God will be
waiting for us where there is no currency, where the one bank account that matters
will be the good use that we made of our time and our share of this world’s
goods while we were alive. Amen.