To be very honest I found it very difficult to write this week’s blog. I find this Gospel passage particularly tough to make sense of despite reading the many reflections online. It perplexes me how a dishonest steward can be made a gospel hero. Until I identified this steward in me in similar situations in life.
I have stood at this crossroad before. A situation in life knowing ‘what we have’ will soon be taken from us. And we are powerless to stop it from happening. It is at that point we go into a frenzy regretting that we had not done enough for the longer term future which suddenly looks dauntingly near and real. We regret our extravagant attitude and a lifestyle tailored to feel gratified at the end of each day. We wished we had saved more. The steward was on this spot.
I was on this same spot a few years ago when I knew I was losing my job. I wished I had done more to prepare for the rainy days that has now come. I should have tailored my lifestyle more towards long-term security. Being in that situation woke me up and I became acutely aware that for everyone there is a long-term goal and our need to prepare and journey towards it. But for most of us we may not see it until a situation befalls us.
I imagine a situation befalling me; not an uncommon one. I am struck with terminal illness. I have more than enough money but suddenly that isn’t my long-term security anymore. With death dauntingly near and real, I suddenly see that my ultimate future is the heavenly security of eternal life.
Can money buy me eternal life? Surprisingly, yes. In the context of today’s readings, “use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity”. We can be rich. In fact it is good to have money but it is how and what and who we use it for that will buy us into eternal life. It is in how “astute” we are as a “steward” of money that will win for us the “genuine riches” of being in heaven.
We sing, “Do not worry over what to eat, what to wear or put upon your feet”. For the rich it is an easy song as they don’t need to worry. For the poor it is like hearing “Here take this dosage of faith …and hope!” And then we continue to sing, “Leave it in the hands of the Lord”. The rich, the people with money are these “hands of the Lord”!
This is the astuteness that will make us gospel heroes; when we use our money, our gifts and our talents to help those who are poor, who have less than us. We befriend them on their journey towards heaven, sharing whatever we have. In the testimonies of their life, we are the seen, visible hands of the Lord fulfilling hope. And with these testimonies, the poor stand ready “to welcome us into the tents of eternity”.
Every day, we have a choice in the lifestyle we wish to adopt. Every dollar we spend accentuates our choice. But through this dishonest steward that we are reminded, “You cannot be the slave of God and of money”.
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time