in Ordinary Time
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Amos 8:4-7
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
Second Reading - 1 Timothy 2:1-8
Gospel - Luke 16:1-13
Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Jesus said to his disciples, "A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, 'What is that I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.' The steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.' He called in him master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, 'How much do you owe my master?' He replied, 'One hundred measures of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.' Then to another the steward said, 'And you, how much do you owe?' He replied, 'One hundred kors of wheat.' The steward said to him, 'Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.' And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
"For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the the children of light. I tell you, make friends fore yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon."
Well, I must confess . . . I have been like this crafty steward. I had to take a math class at the Academy, one which was infamous amongst physics majors for being just a little difficult. The teacher spoke in a language as foreign as Greek. I think I understood about a quarter of the first day’s discussion. Things were looking drastic, I was in a tough spot. So I looked to my right, and saw a pretty smart plebe (a year younger than me) who was taking the class a year early – He also lived not far from myself. Hey! I said. How’s plebe year going for you? Rough, sir, he said. Naw man, I said, HERE, you are my classmate . . . HERE, you can call me Luke. Yo, you understand what this professor is saying? Oh sure, you see, it’s really quite simple . . . GREAT! Hey, you wanna work together on the homework since we live close to each other? Sure thing, sir! That’s LUKE. Oh, riiiight! Making friends were it counts . . . so I could pass this physics course . . . Gotta make the most of the situation!
Now, I always had trouble with this story about the dishonest steward – after talking with a few parishioners who were a bit more business-savvy than myself, I think I understand it a little bit better. This guy’s in a tough spot – he’s about to be fired! So he goes and makes friends where it counts. “I’m going to cut the debts of those who owe stuff to the guy who’s going to fire me!” So you - you owe 100? Now you owe 50. And you – you also owe 100? Now you owe 80. Oh, don’t thank me, it’s the LEAST I can do! (quite literally!) But remember who cut you a good deal! We’ll do business again!
Why does Jesus give us a parable like this? I think one of the reasons is because this man makes the most of what he had before he had nothing. Perhaps we can empathize with him in various ways – getting stuck in situations that we wouldn’t rather be in, either materially or spiritually. Do we give up? Do we just become bitter or cynical? No, what does this steward do? He looks around and he MOVES. He makes the MOST of what he has, though in a dishonest way, which we can’t endorse.
Nevertheless, we can learn a lesson here. We hear magnificent mandates and commands given by the Lord – go and make disciples. Spread the good news. Evangelize. Let your light shine for others. But our response may be, Lord, that sounds great, but can’t you see the struggles *I* am having? And you want me to go and do this? Spreading good news, etc? . . . And of course our Lord says, YES! I do see the struggles you are in. And YES, I still want you to go and do this. And YES, I want you to do it in just the situation in which you find yourself. The steward looked around and made the most of the material reality he saw around him. We are called to look around and make the most of the spiritual reality we see around us.
And if there isn’t much there, then praise God. If we’re at work and we see difficult situations or difficult persons to be with, praise God. If we’re at home and we have challenging scenarios to deal with, then praise God. Through this most interesting parable, Jesus reminds us that, as Christians, we have a powerful ability to make the most of a spiritual situation, even if it means quietly praying for those we don’t really care for. Who knows, perhaps we’re the only ones who will be OFFERING prayers for them. In this year of faith, we are reminded that, as we looked around us with spiritual vision, grace is abundant EVERYWHERE . . . and WE, or even more precisely YOU, are called to move, to name it and bring it out for others, at homes AND at work. Even if it’s only a breath of a prayer for someone, it might be just the healing that someone needs, and Pope Francis just mentioned that this is what the Church needs MOST today, is the “ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” I know that, when the time comes for us to pass from this world to the next, we will look upon those moments when we thought we were up against a wall, and we realize that we were blessed with the most amazing abilities to spread His kingdom. So I thank each of YOU for making the most of this coming week, and in your own unique ways, helping to spread the most profitable message of all - - - that Jesus Christ has indeed saved us.