Reflection for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
In today’s readings, we are given a curious yet insightful lesson in wealth management. A steward who has been revealed to be involved in fraudulent transactions, suddenly found himself in danger of inevitable termination by his employer.
Thus, confronted with a gloomy future with little prospects for him, he craftily uses whatever time he had left to reduce the debts of his master’s debtors, with the hope of making friends with them in preparation for it. In the economic context of that time, the steward may have actually deducted the amounts equivalent to the usurious interest charges originally intended for himself.
In this case, our Lord is pointing out the example of a dishonest man, who finally learns under the most extreme of circumstances bordering on survival, to become more honest, by foregoing worldly wealth for the true wealth of heaven.
The prophets have always underscored for us the importance of consciousness and conscience for social justice, a sensitive awareness and action against the unjust accumulation or onerous abuse of worldly wealth at the expense of others who are already lacking in it.
Whether or not the poor and marginalized are deserving of their insufficiency is not the issue. Indifference and injustice will never be forgotten, and divine justice may come in the form of a shift in worldly fortunes, or a denial of spiritual wealth from the advantaged in favor of the disadvantaged.
“Hear this, you, who trample on the needy, to do away with the weak of the land … you, who buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals …. I shall never forget their deeds.”
We are all called to “lift pure hands, in prayer, to heaven, without anger and dissension,” urging “that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone … that we may enjoy a quiet and peaceful life, in godliness and respect.”
The Apostle reminds, “For God wants all to be saved, and come to the knowledge of truth.” It is the Spirit who desires for all humanity, a cosmic order of harmony and tranquility.
However, in pursuit of that desire, the Christ clearly endorses the use of worldly wealth as the cause of disorder, to gain for oneself spiritual wealth, and eventually for society, a stable order, for as long as its use is performed in the context of charity and mutual responsibility.
“Use filthy money to make friends for yourselves, so that, when it fails, these people may welcome you into the eternal homes.” We are exhorted to be as crafty as the steward who was preparing for himself a lasting place in this world; as servants for the kingdom of justice and peace, worldly wealth may similarly be used by us in preparing for all peoples, a lasting place in eternity.
In this sense, the Christ also clearly emphasizes the significance of spiritual wealth over worldly wealth, the permanent reality of one over the fleeting illusions of the other. He never intended for us not to use worldly wealth, for it is the inordinate and exclusive attachment to it – not its proper use – which leads to evil.
“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.”
Though we should be detached from the allurements of worldly wealth, both should still be managed in the proper frame-of-mind, within the context of love and simple sharing.
Finally, the Christ clearly states that wealth management – or the proper use of worldly wealth for spiritual wealth – is crucially founded upon a careful understanding of what it means to be entrusted by the Spirit with both: “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 been dishonest in handling filthy money, who would entrust you with true wealth? And if you have been dishonest with things that are not really yours, who will give you that wealth which is truly your own?”
Simply said, “If I am to be given the chance by God to have and use more than enough worldly wealth or ‘little things,’ then I should use it properly and responsibly for the alleviation of those who are in dire need of it, so that I may hope to receive from our Lord, spiritual wealth or ‘greater things.’”
Thus, the relationship between the upliftment of social realities, and the worthiness to spiritual realities is undeniable. Whatever we do for the least, the lost, and the last will be the primary key towards our ultimate destiny with him.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of LiCAS.news.