Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’
So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’
And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.“
Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In the ancient world, few people owned all the tools necessary to accomplish their daily tasks. Instead, they rented tools from wealthier members of the community. People paid a share of whatever the tool helped them produce as rent. When a manager ran an estate for an absent landlord, as in today’s gospel reading, that manager received a portion of the rent as a commission for arranging the loan. Jesus called the manager in today’s gospel prudent because he freely sacrificed his short-term enrichment (even in the face of unemployment!) for the long-term security he hoped would come from his grateful borrowers.
In teaching us about the right use of possessions, Jesus is also teaching us about forgiveness. None of us created our own prosperity. All of us are dependent on gifts from God and the hard work of others. This is what the dishonest steward realized. His commissions, although legal, had nothing to do with his own labor; they were entirely dependent on his master’s wealth and his clients’ hard work. If he should forego such “dishonest wealth” now, he knew he would find treasure in the future. Had he clung to the pittance owed to him, he would have never found the security he desired.
Clinging to anything is dangerous business; when we cling, we rehearse a habit that can affect all parts of our life. People who are stingy with their wealth are often also stingy with forgiveness and generosity. We cannot serve both greed and God. We must choose to trust one or the other. Can we learn to trust God and forgive our debtors, so that in return God may trust us to transform the world through love?
—Fr. Michael Simone, S.J. is beginning his ministry as instructor in Old Testament Studies at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry
Prayer for Managers
I want what you want, O Lord. By asking you for guidance, with complete faith and confidence that you are helping me, nothing that I am called upon to do becomes ‘too much’ or ‘too bothersome.’ Nor is there any room for worry. I will find it easy to ask you each day to be a partner in my work…to help me get things done…to weigh my actions and decisions in the light of ‘ is this right?’ ‘is this just?’ ‘is this doing your will?’
With your help I will make decisions better and faster, confident that you will not lead me astray. I will live my life each day knowing that it is your will I accomplish. Amen.
—National Conference of Christian Employers and ManagersPlease share the Good Word with your friends!