Trustworthy people must know which ‘master’ they serve

By: By Sharon Priester

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sept. 19
Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2,4-6,7-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

As I read Luke’s Gospel this week, I found it difficult to understand. How can a dishonest person be commended for “acting prudently”?

I consulted a homily aid by Father Charles Irvin, a retired priest of the Diocese of Lansing, Mich., who writes, “It appears as if Jesus is suggesting that He approves of those who gain dishonest wealth.”

In the Gospel, a steward had been authorized to make contracts for a landowner, a rich man. It was reported to the rich man that the steward had squandered his property. So he asks the steward for a full report. Being afraid of losing his position the steward makes a plan. Having been charging extra interest rates for the property so he could live well, he goes to the debtors and starts to make some deals.

He quickly reduces the amount owed by the debtors so it reflects a reasonable amount of interest rather than the exorbitant amount they were charged, knowing that these debtors would welcome him into their homes because of this action. The land owner still gets what is due to him and the steward gets less than he originally planned.

Was the steward dishonest? Certainly. But he was praised for his foresightedness and his prudence in the matter. He chose to help those in need rather than himself. Through the virtue of prudence, the steward discerned what was good for the debtors, the rich man and himself, and acted in such a way that he was able to accomplish what was best for all.

As the Gospel continues, Jesus speaking about trustworthiness says, “The person who is trustworthy in small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.” (Luke 16:10) Each of us are to be responsible and trustworthy caretakers of all that God has given us. If we are trustworthy with what He has given us, we will also be considered trustworthy with the affairs of the Kingdom of God.

Lastly, in the Gospel, Jesus tells the people and us that “No man can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other” (Luke 16:13).

What does this mean to me right now? I sometimes have a desire to have more material things — clothes, money, a new home, etc. I put so much of my energy into trying to have those things and serving myself that I forget about God, His love and all that He has given me. I refocus myself, ask to be reconciled with God and point myself toward my goal — being with God eternally.

The Israelites that Amos is addressing in the first reading are no different than us. They think of only themselves and gouge the poor with their unfair business practices. Amos warns and reminds them that they will be judged by God for their unjust treatment of others. We, too, should heed Amos’ warning. Instead, of being unfair and unjust, we should reach out with love to all — feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked.

Not only should we share our selfless love for every member of the family of God through our works of mercy, but as Paul instructs Timothy and his followers, offer “supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving” (1Timothy 2:1) for everyone. As Paul says, “This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

This weekend, we celebrate Catechetical Sunday. Catechists and teachers everywhere continue to share their selfless love with all those that they teach — the children, youth, adults. Having recognized the gifts that God has given them, they choose to serve God and witness their faith and love of God through their deeds and words, helping to build the family of God.

Please pray that these catechists and teachers may use their “gifts of faith, hope and love, to serve the family as a witness to God, who is love and life and the source and destiny of all families.” (“A Catechist’s Prayer,” U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

SHARON PRIESTER is one of six regional directors of religious education working with the diocesan Office of Catechetics. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.

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