Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-18; Luke 16:1-13
First Reading: Amos is the ultimate proponent of justice for the oppressed. His prophetic ministry is dominated by denunciations of anyone, especially the rich, who abuse and exploit the less fortunate. In today’s passage, Amos proclaims a judgment against the northern kingdom for their hypocritical, unjust and abuse treatment of the poor and needy.
Psalm 113: Psalm 113 is a fitting response to the Amos reading, as it invites all to praise the Lord “who lifts up the poor.”
Second Reading: The author of 1 Timothy counsels the community to pray publically for everyone, most especially in authority, so that all may live in peace and tranquility.
Gospel: The Gospel passage from Luke is the parable of the “dishonest” steward which centers on a steward whose master is terminating him for mismanagement or squandering of property. The steward, thinking of his own self-interest, calls in his master’s debtors and reduces their debt, either by cutting his own commission or by lowering the exorbitant interest rate charged by his master. It also reminds us that we cannot “serve two masters.”
Reflection: The issue of financial manipulation at the expense of others is a rampant problem. For example, CEOs embezzle funds from their companies; individuals overspend, then declare bankruptcy to avoid paying debts; businesses charge exorbitantly high interest rates on credit cards and advance check cashing. The kind of manipulative behavior of the dishonest steward in the gospel parable, then, is not all that uncommon even today.
In today’s gospel, a dishonest servant cheats his master for personal gain. He thinks he has secured a future for himself; in fact, he has secured nothing, as Jesus tells us.
This gospel passage isn’t about Jesus commending the steward’s dishonesty; dishonesty is just that, and is never virtuous. Jesus does, however, commend the steward’s shrewdness in cleverly ensuring a secure future for himself, albeit not the future Jesus is trying to teach his disciples about. Disciples must be equally shrewd as the steward but make very different choices: choosing trustworthy service over dishonesty for personal gain, choosing eternal happiness above security in this world at any cost. In these very choices, disciples serve God and God alone. Only by serving God alone can we ever secure for ourselves a sure future: being “welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
This gospel also challenges us to go one step further than making a wise choice. We must go beyond surrendering to the self-sacrificing possibilities that come our way, but with an eye to the future, we must also surrender ourselves to actually searching out opportunities to live the paschal mystery. There is such an urgency about discipleship and proclaiming the Good News of salvation that we cannot be passive in any way. Just as Jesus did all he needed to do to make his message known, even when that led to Jerusalem and the cross, so must we be as proactive in our own discipleship.
Question for reflection: If Jesus were to ask me to make a full account of my “stewardship” how would I respond?
Copyright © 2016, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.