Reading: Am 8:4-7; 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 16:1-13
Investing wisely in what matters most sums up the message of this Sunday. In the parable of the dishonest steward this Sunday, Jesus challenges us to make good use of our ingenuity to invest in what matters most: eternal salvation; to secure our spiritual future. We must also be aware of the dangers of separating God from our faith practice and of serving two masters. The readings underline the wise use of material goods that God has entrusted to us. We are told that material goods are meant to be shared, rather than used to exploit the poor by tempering with measuring devices, price fixing or by causing speculative shortages in order to gain from buyers. The first reading from Amos gives a good example of the separation between religious faith and practice. Imagine in the temple worship some plotting in their hearts how they are going to cheat the poor clients! That is a good example of how the children of this world mentioned in the Gospel are well able to manipulate economic and political situations in order to secure a better future for themselves and their families. We must admire such intelligence, which enables modem business persons to speculate the financial stock market through sophisticated technology, in buying and selling their stocks on time to make money. Financial institutions are able to invest what we place in their trust and be able to make an interest both for themselves and for their clients. It takes the children of this world to speculate and invest wisely.
The business manager in the parable acts nearly in the same way. He dishonestly falsifies the debtors' records in order to win friendship with those who would provide for him when he is fired from his job. Jesus does not admire the steward's lack of conscience in his act, but admires his wisdom and ability to foresee his future. The point Jesus makes is that his followers apply the same astuteness to the one area that really matters: eternal salvation. If we were to observe the kind of ingenuity, planning and resourcefulness that goes into political campaigns, we would understand why the business manager in the parable is admired. In a daring way, Jesus suggests that perhaps there is some lesson his followers can learn from the resourcefulness, talents and wisdom put in financial deals and political campaigns. Being a good steward may mean looking for ways to earn more money through employment, business opportunities and investments, so as to give more for the cause of God’s work. Let me try to sum up in three points. 1) The point of the parable is that the business manager uses his position to care and plan for his future. 2) The parable argues against the separation between God and everyday life; between faith and its application in life. 3) Jesus challenges us to be as resourceful and dedicated in the ways of God as we are in the ways of this world, and secure our spiritual future while there is time by wisely investing in Him.
©2016 John S. Mbinda