Homily for the twenty-fifth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 16:1-13


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus also said to the disciples, `There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' And the steward said to himself, `What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my master? He said, `A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, `Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then he said to another, `And how much do you owe?' He said, `A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.'


" `He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is anothers, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.' "





Homily:


"Jesus also said to the disciples, 'There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, "What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward." ' "


I write this homily five days after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington. When I read the Gospel for this Sunday, the first thought that came to my mind was that, on that day of tragedy, several thousand people were suddenly thrown down at the feet of the Lord to give him an account of their stewardship, to present to him all that they had done in their life, from the time they attained the age of reason until that final hour, which they could not have foreseen...


In that business world that the buildings of the World Trade Center constituted, it was no longer a question of processing transactions, but rather of placing the administration of one's soul in the hands of the Lord... One had to pass from the world of finance to the world of grace and eternal life. Undoubtedly, there were men and women who anticipated this passage, for each morning, as religious people, whether they were Christian, Jewish, or of some other confession, they prepared themselves to live their last day. "Who knows what tomorrow will bring," they said...


Other men and women who perished at that time did not expect that tragic end. This is normal. And all of us would have wished them a happier end. But what is more serious is that several of them - we may assume - lived as if they would never die! Alas, we are all a little like these people... The world around us engrosses our spirit, material goods captivate us, social success fascinates us... In short, we are in a situation that is more tragic than that of the dishonest steward of whom Jesus speaks in today's Gospel.


"And the steward said to himself, `What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my master? He said, `A hundred measures of oil.' And he said to him, `Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty. Then he said to another, `And how much do you owe?' He said, `A hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill, and write eighty.' The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light."


The dishonest steward is shrewd! Are we also shrewd in the stewardship of our spiritual life? Do we think of thanking the Lord for all the graces that he ceaselessly bestows upon us? If there is a grace among graces, it is truly the Eucharist! After having communicated of the Body of Christ, let us remain in silence for a little, thanking the Lord who is present in us, asking him to prepare a dwelling for us in Heaven! Let us also thank God for the trials he sends us; this is more difficult to do, it is true, but let us try, nonetheless, to do this sometimes... Lastly, let us not forget to pray for our dead: they will make us think of Heaven, and they will help us, if they can, in the difficulties of our life!


" `And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.' "


What is this "unrighteous mammon"? One can answer this in several ways: it depends on how one interprets this expression. I think that the best interpretation is the following. Unrighteous mammon is money gained without effort, money that one did not earn: free money. It is thus the sign of divine grace, that free gift from God which enables us to enter into communion with him, through faith.


We are in the time of grace, we are in the time when God has mercy on us and gives unsparingly. But when the time comes for us to appear before God, at the end of our life, the time of grace will have ended: that is the moment of divine justice. This is why it is said that there will come a time when the unrighteous mammon - grace - will fail: "And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations."


The grace of God is, first, a gift that helps us to pray. The grace that is always offered to us by the Lord is that of prayer. In praying, we prepare for ourselves a dwelling in Heaven, we make friends for ourselves: Jesus, Mary, Joseph, all the saints of Paradise! In praying for our neighbor, in praying for those around us with whom we live every day, we take part in the building up of the Dwelling of God that is in Heaven and on earth: we build up the Church, Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit!


" `He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is anothers, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.' "


What being is more faithful to God than the Most Blessed Virgin Mary? She was faithful in little things and, one day, the Son of God himself came into her to reward her for her faithfulness! "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much..." May the Most Blessed Mother of God help us in order that we might not prefer money to God, in order that the Lord might be, for us, our one true treasure!



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