In today ‘s Gospel we have one of the more confusing parables, with a strange twist; and although it might be difficult to understand, it really is a pretty simple straight-forward message, but still a message that is difficult to live. So let us jump right into it to try and understand the parable and then appreciate the message Jesus is giving us and how to implement it into our lives.
This is the parable of the Dishonest Steward from Luke chapter 16. Remember that a Steward is a person who is put in charge of an estate who has all the authority to make decisions and do things necessary when the master is away. We can think of someone who owns 2 houses, lives in one and has another person take care of one of them. Or someone owns a restaurant or a business and hires someone to manage it. That steward, or manager, doesn’t have any money in or ownership of the estate but works for the owner. Well, in this parable, Jesus says that there is a dishonest steward. This person is skimming the books, not managing well or honestly, and is probably stealing from the owner and keeping it for himself. The steward, knowing that he is going to be laid off, tries to do something to take care of himself after the money runs out. He steals from the owner again by having those who are in debt to the master, give a lesser amount. The dishonest steward changes the amounts so that he can make friends with these debtors, hoping that when he is in need, they would help him out, and give them a place to live.
Straightforward enough? Good. Now comes the twist, the confusing and strange part of the parable Jesus gives. Keep in mind that this is a parable, it is a story in order to teach a point, it probably is not a true or even a likely story, but it is given for a purpose.
In the parable, Jesus says that the Master actually commends the steward for acting prudently. Although what the steward did is wrong, and he still be fired, at least he was smart. Jesus says, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Jesus is starting with the earthly, the children of this world, but will apply it to the spiritual, the children of the light. What Jesus is saying, is that people of this world, when something happens and their lifestyle changes, like being fired would certainly do, they do just something about it. When they hit rock bottom, they don’t wallow in their pity, but they do something about it. And so, this steward being fired caused him to do something, it called him to act. So then Jesus concludes the parable again in a strange way by saying, “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings”. In other words, do what the steward did, he made friends for himself by dishonest wealth. Although dishonest, he did a favor to those debtors, by making the debt less. Even for his own needs and selfish desires, he did a good thing for those who owed the master by making it less. And by doing the good thing here on earth, he will receive a Heavenly reward. So there is a good action of giving earthly wealth which will help us to be welcomed in the Heavenly dwelling. Who are those who will welcome us in Heavenly dwelling? The Poor. So in other words, Jesus is saying, it is never too late to do the right thing and change the way you have been living, and give of what you have for the good of others.
The end of the parable confirms this message from Jesus, “you cannot serve both God and mammon”. Mammon is Aramaic for money or wealth. Now we know that money can be a good thing. Money in itself represents so much, it represents stability, purchasing power, a life of ease and security, it gives us healthcare. So money in and of itself is not bad, but we know that the love of money is what is dangerous, in fact the love of money is the root of all evil. Money can control us if we let it. Money can be our predominant desire, it can be the source of division in our relationships, money can destroy us. Therefore, Jesus in this Gospel asks us to reflect on if we have a disordered love of money. Are we a servant of money or of the Lord?
If we are indeed serving God and not money, then money takes on a whole new relationship or purpose in our lives. Then we are stewards. Stewards do not see that the money they have as belonging to them, but it is it a tool to how to serve the Master. So do you see that the money you have as belonging to you, or is it God’s? Does it help you serve God? Are you a good or dishonest steward of what God has given you?
And Jesus is telling us that in order to help us not be controlled by money, but to use it to serve Him and others, then we are to tithe. Scriptures call us to tithe- tithe comes from the root ‘a tenth’, we are to tithe a tenth of our total income. Unfortunately, most Catholics do not tithe as God calls them to. Most if they give anything, give of what they might have left over, and not really putting God first and trusting Him for your well-being. So I challenge you to look at your total income, figure what amount a tenth of it is, see how much you give now, and make steps to increase it to a tenth. I am not saying the whole tenth has to come to the parish, but I recommend at least 5% give to the parish for our evangelizing and faith growth opportunities, and the rest of the 10% can go to any good charities or organizations you wish. And I vow to be a good steward of what you give. The more we tithe and are generous and use what God has given us to serve Him and not ourselves, then the more we will be free from the power and entrapment money has on our lives.
If we do tithe and are good stewards, if we are faithful in the small matters, faithful in using well what God has given us, then He will be faithful in giving to us, and not only will we be happy on this earth, but great also will be our eternal reward.BACK TO LIST