Gospel Reflection for 25th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – September 18th 2016
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward 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 his master’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.’
The gospel is the story of a man looking after himself and his family when he was losing a job. He let some debtors off the interest on a bill owed to his master so that they would look after him later.
Jesus doesn’t recommend dishonesty but recommends that we be as concerned for goodness as he was for dishonesty. The children of the world are clever – could we be as enthusiastic?
The parable is a Jesus’ gentle humorous way saying that we have to deal with life as it is, and it would be great that we would be as passionate in the cause of good as your man was in looking after himself! Jesus used this situation to teach us a lesson about money and God; he uses many situations to widen our view of God who is total love, total mercy, and total forgiveness. Let’s leave judgment to him and widen the compassion of our hearts.
The parable makes us think that we get into messy situations, and this man was trying to do his best. Probably letting the debtors off the huge interest and on what was owed, and which had been got in corrupt dealings! God is bigger than any of our small laws and rituals.
The message as well is to use money in the service of God, ‘tainted though it is’. We know how our wealth and prosperity can lead to greed or corruption, or to improving the lives of others. As with all we have, all is gift and to be used for the common good.
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger