Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! "When will the new moon be over," you ask, "that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!" The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!(P) The word of the Lord.
Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever. (R)
High above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is his glory. Who is like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below? (R)
He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people. (R)
Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle - I am speaking the truth, I am not lying, teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.(P) The word of the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples, "A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, "What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward." The steward said to himself, "What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes." He called in his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, "How much do you owe my master?" He replied, "One hundred measures of olive oil." He said to him, "Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty." Then to another the steward said, "And you, how much do you owe?" He replied, "One hundred measures of wheat." The steward said to him, "Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty." And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. "For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Once, a teacher asked her little pupils to share their acts of kindness to animals and birds. One said, "Miss, one time I helped a kitten climb out of a pit." Another said, "Miss, once I tended an injured baby bird in our garden." After several of the children had told their stories of kindness, finally, one little boy said, "Miss, this morning I hit a boy with a stick for kicking my dog."
Today's gospel story is one of the most difficult stories in the Bible to understand. The story is about a manager or a steward of a rich man who would soon be terminated from his job for misusing his master's property, Luke (16:1). As soon as he learned of his master's intention to relieve him of his responsibilities, he took stock of himself. Realizing that he was too old to work in fields and too proud to depend on others for his own maintenance and looking to the future, he devised a plan to save himself and immediately put it into action.
He called his master's debtors one by one, and sought to make friends with them by reducing their debts, although it was despicably dishonest, Luke (16:3). In doing so, the unfaithful steward hoped to find favor with the debtors by making them obligated to him so that they would return the favor by providing him with a place to stay while he was unemployed. However, he put his master in a difficult position. If the master had later demanded full payment from the debtors, he would have incurred the anger and ill will of the people. So, the master, instead of punishing his dishonest manager, surprisingly commended him for his shrewdness. The story, like the story of the prodigal son, is left open ended, leaving us to wonder if the steward was reinstated after he had been commended for shrewdness.
As always, Jesus used this parable to teach his disciples not just a moral lesson but also a spiritual one. He said, "For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light." Jesus drew a contrast between the "children of the world", referring to unbelievers and those in the darkness of sin, and "the children of light", referring to believers and those in the light of Christ. Here, Jesus was talking about the wealthy and powerful Pharisees, the scribes and others who had been charged with managing property which in fact belongs to God alone. But, like the steward in the parable, they were "squandering" God's property or putting heavy burdens upon poor people and exploiting others to meet their own needs and desires.
Then Jesus said, "I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." It appears that since Jesus praised the steward for being dishonest, He was encouraging his followers to take the dishonest manager as a good example and become deceitful when it comes to dealing with others or in using wealth to make friends. No. Jesus was not condoning the improper actions of the steward, but rather he pointed out the steward's worldly shrewdness to win friends using his master's money so he would not be homeless when he lost his job. Jesus wanted his followers to adopt the same shrewdness, not to frantically hold on to earthly wealth and possessions which soon will disappear but instead give them away, especially to those in need, so that they could inherit their eternal home as a gift from God by the way they live their life on earth.
Jesus then said that if a person is "trustworthy in very small matters" he will also be "trustworthy in very great ones". Similarly, if a person is "dishonest in small matters" he will also be "dishonest in great ones". If the person can't be careful with earthly wealth, which isn't even his or hers to begin with, then he or she cannot be entrusted with "true wealth". "True wealth" here refers to the responsibility in God's kingdom along with all the accompanying heavenly rewards. Then Jesus said that like the servant who cannot serve two masters at the same time, for he might be divided over his affections and obedience and he would fail altogether in his duty to either one or the other, Jesus warned his followers that they cannot "serve both God and mammon". They cannot love money and love God at the same time.
The gospel message is the same today as it was in Jesus' day.
Jesus has called us out of darkness to light and made us children of light. And He wants us to walk in the light till the end. Hence, it is important, we, first and foremost, gratefully acknowledge that all of creation, all money, all wealth, all things, and all resources ultimately belong to God, and we are mere stewards of what He entrusts us with.
Second, we should strive to be a good, prudent, honest, and responsible steward. That is to say, we should strive to earn our living in honest ways, and always utilize it for ourselves and others to gain heaven. If in some way, like the children of the world, acquire wealth in a dishonest way we should still freely share our unrighteous wealth with others on earth and make friends who are really worth having.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!