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Friday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Then he also 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you for this day. Thank you for creating and redeeming me. I praise you for your goodness, wisdom, and beauty. Help me to grow more like you through my prayer today.
- The Lure of Money: This unusual passage is part of a chapter-long discourse concerning money which is unique to Luke’s Gospel. In tomorrow’s Gospel we will hear how one cannot serve both God and money, and at the end of the chapter, we hear the poignant story of the rich man and Lazarus. In Luke 16:14, the centerpoint of the chapter, we learn who Jesus had in mind during this discourse: “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.” Of course, God created us all, and he knows exactly how each one of us feel about money, whether we have a lot or very little. Let’s pray with transparency about the treasures with which Our Lord has entrusted us, asking what he would have us do with them. He calls us to use our treasures prudently, to put them to good use here on earth so as to reap eternal dividends.
- I Know What to Do: We are struck by the steward’s acute situational analysis. “What shall I do?… I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. [But] I know what I shall do…” We envy him for this ability to put his finger on the problem and choose a fitting solution. Our lives, on the other hand, can be filled with doubt, and sometimes with sin. We ask: “What shall I do, now that my sin has distanced me from God? I am not strong enough to stop sinning, and I am ashamed to beg for help. I don’t know what to do!” In this passage, the Lord encourages us to act, and to act shrewdly. We are not to remain indecisive, but to step away from sin and act as a child of the light. Let us summon our strength–aided by grace–in order to right our ship and restore our friendship with God through the sacrament of Confession.
- Right Stewardship: It is interesting to note the crisis which set the parable in motion: “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property.” Why would a prudent steward, one capable of “dealing with those of his own generation” and “finding welcome in their homes,” be so careless as to squander his master’s property? Perhaps he squandered his master’s property to make his own life easy and comfortable. Let us always remember that all that we have belongs to God. We are custodians of creation and of souls he has put in our care. If we are careless with his “property,” God one day will call us to account for our carelessness. But if we cherish and guard the things of God and the people he has put in our life, we are really cherishing and guarding our own happiness and security in Christ.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace of true prudence—the kind of prudence which seeks first the Kingdom of God. I know that you will give me everything else besides. Teach me to live as a child of the light.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will trust in you and the graces you wish to give me so that I can take up the habit of tithing.
For Further Reflection: CCC 2404 “In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself” (Gaudium et Spes 69.1). The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.
Deacon Erik Burckel, LC, is a religious in preparation for the priesthood. He writes articles and short stories for diverse purposes and publications, and can be reached at email@example.com.