11.10.17 Wed. wk. 31 – O.T. (I)
1st Rdg Romans 15: 14 – 21
Gospel Luke: 16: 1 – 8
†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 this 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 his 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 he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He 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 children of light.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Conversion of Heart
In this parable, †Jesus praises the dishonest steward, the one who had squandered the rich man’s property. We have all often wondered: ‘What is this all about? Why is this guy being rewarded for what he had done?’ Now he is on the verge of being punished and he reduces the debt of his master’s debtors. Not only did he steal from his master the first time, it sounds like he’s doing the same thing all over again. Shouldn’t this man receive a severe punishment? But this is not the story of a dishonest steward becoming more dishonest!
This is the story of conversion. This dishonest servant was serving both himself as well as his master, and in the process he was squandering his master’s property. Well, finally his master returned and said: “It was time for a full accounting;” and then the steward shows amazing generosity to others by reducing the amount of their debt. Now we might think he is doing an even greater disservice to his master, but we have to remember who is telling the story. This is very important! In the parables, when †Jesus refers to the rich man, or the master of the harvest, or the king, or any of those characters, †Jesus is always referring to His Father, Abba. We are the stewards, we are the servants and God is always generous with His gifts. He is full of mercy and compassion and love. He even gives us the responsibility to care for the gifts that He has given us.
When the steward realized he had displeased God, he had a change of heart, because he knew the time of his employment was coming to an end. Trust me – we would all do the same thing. If the Lord came to you and said: “Alright, in two weeks you’re going to leave this life and I’m calling for an accounting.” Don’t you believe that we’re all going to be on our best behavior for the next two weeks and try to make up for all the sinful things that we did by being really generous, like writing checks to charities? I know I would! Our generous motives would not be pure. This steward is not so different from us. He embraced the generosity of God, who, as St. Paul reminds us: “Emptied Himself to be born of humanity and giving of Himself as a gift to us. In the Gospel we read: “The master commended that dishonest steward for his prudence.” (Remember ‘prudence’ is a virtue, it is one of the cardinal virtues.) So this servant is no longer thinking of himself, trying to serve two masters; he is imitating the kindness of God by being generous to others, although not as purely as God is generous.
When our Divine Master comes, all of us could be held accountable for how we lived our lives. Did we have a change of heart? The selfish steward in the parable changed his life. Now what is interesting – you have to look at what is the context of this parable? In the three parables before this Fri. wk 31one, the parable of “The Lost Sheep,’ the parable of ‘The Lost Coin,’ the parable of ‘The Lost Son’ (or ‘Prodigal Son’) those parables reveal how God welcomes the lost. And this parable follows those three; it’s still the same story! This steward was lost – but, he was welcomed even though he was lost, because he had a change of heart, just like the ‘Prodigal Son,’ had a change of heart in the previous parable. This steward was lost through selfishness, but the master commends him, because he had a change of heart from selfishness to generosity.
Are we becoming more generous in our lives? Or, are we becoming more and more self-centered? Are we living as generous stewards of God’s gifts? Possibly we have squandered some of the gifts God has given to us, using our gifts selfishly for ourselves. If we are self-serving we have to know that this displeases the Lord as He will ask for an accounting at some point.
Now is the time to have a change of heart, to express the generosity of God to family and coworkers, even to strangers. There are so many ways to express this generosity, if we are willing to take the risk out of love for the Lord. As members of the Church, as members of the household of God, we all participate in the mission of Christ – all of us. And in his letter to the Romans, St. Paul wrote: “Because of the grace given to me by God, to be a minister of Christ †Jesus.” (Rom.15:15) All of us have been given the grace of God to be ministers of Christ †Jesus. Are we living with a generous, kind, and loving heart?
We cannot serve two masters, God and ourselves, because only one of these masters has the power to save us. Which one will we follow? Are we ready to be single-hearted ministers of †Jesus Christ.
It is not too late to change, we are approaching this ‘Season of Giving’. Are we ready to turn the focus from our self to God and to others? As this dishonest servant realized: ‘No one can serve two masters.’ So let us do everything we can to begin expressing a generous heart, to have that change of heart, to act with kindness and generosity to bring about God’s Kingdom today.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.