"For it is in giving that we receive" — Saint Francis of Assisi
Gospel text (Lk 16:1-13): Jesus told his disciples, «There was a rich man whose steward was reported to him for fraudulent service. He summoned the steward and asked him: ‘What is this I hear about you? I want you to render an account of your service for it is about to be terminated’. The steward thought to himself: ‘What am I to do now? My master will surely dismiss me. I am not strong enough to do hard work, and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do: I must make sure that when I am dismissed, there will be some people to welcome me into their house’.
»So he called his master's debtors one by one. He asked the first who came: ‘How much do you owe my master?’. The reply was: ‘A hundred jars of oil’. The steward said: ‘Here is your bill. Sit down quickly and write there fifty’. To the second he put the same question: ‘How much do you owe?’. The answer was: ‘A thousand measures of wheat’. Then he said: ‘Take your bill and write eight hundred’.
»The master commended the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the people of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the people of light. And so I tell you: use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever can be trusted in little things can also be trusted in great ones; whoever is dishonest in slight matters will also be dishonest in greater ones. So if you have not been trust-worthy in handling filthy money, who could entrust you with true wealth? And if you have not been trustworthy with things which are not really yours, who will give you the wealth which is your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he does not like the one and is fond of the other, or he regards one highly and the other with contempt. You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money».
Today, the Gospel introduces us to the figure of the unfaithful steward: a man rendering a fraudulent service to his master. He is just a simple steward, but behaves as his master. We must bear in mind:
1) Material goods are actually necessary and good, because they come from God's hands. Consequently, we have to prize them.
2) But we cannot “worship” them as if they were God and the ultimate meaning or purpose to our existence; we have to be open-handed. Riches are meant for us to better serve God and men, our brothers; not to expel God from our heart and our deeds: «You cannot give yourself both to God and to Money» (Lk 16:13).
3) We are not owners, but simple stewards; therefore, not only are we supposed to be trustworthy with whatever we administer, but we are also to make it yield to the best of our possibilities. The parable of the talents shows it quite clearly (cf. Mt 25:14-30).
4) Do not let greed drag us along; we have to practice liberality, which is a virtue we should all have, whether rich or poor, each one depending upon his circumstances. We have to give others!
What if I have enough for my own expenses? Yes, you must also try to increase your wealth to be able to give more (parish, diocese, Caritas, apostolate). Remember St. Ambrose's words: «It is not part of your worldly goods what you give to the poor; what you are giving them is already theirs. Because you have appropriated what has been given for the fruition of all. Land belongs to all, not only to the rich».
Are you so selfish that you only think of amassing material goods, even if it is as the Gospel's steward did, by lying, stealing, by being stingy, hard-hearted and indifferent to others' needs? Do you ever ponder over St. Paul's words? «God loves a cheerful giver» (2Cor 9:7). Be generous!