Gospel Reflection Sept 18 – Deacon Stephen
Sunday, September 18
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Luke 16: 1-13
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 the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward 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.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
We need earthly resources to live in this world—food, water, shelter, medicine, financial stability—for ourselves and for those who depend on us. Yet our desire for things of the world can become distorted, to the point where they become objects of devotion, even worship.
This is mammon—the distorted pursuit of earthy wealth for its own sake—and mammon can give us the illusion of earthy security, acclaim, power, and popularity. But mammon is a demanding and seductive master. We begin to hoard the gifts and talents God gives us for ourselves, becoming poor stewards. We lose our ability to be present in the moment to love the people God brings into our lives. Over time, we start to serve mammon to the exclusion of God and, by doing so, become enslaved to the passing things of this world.
This weekend’s Gospel offers us the opportunity to pause and reflect on the places in our lives where we serve mammon instead of serving God.
I have a friend at work who has two pictures on his desk: A picture of the Holy
Family and a picture of his own family. When I asked him why, he told me that every day he prays to St. Joseph as he starts his workday. As my friend put it, St. Joseph worked hard every day, and Mary had to provide for Jesus. But because God was at the center of his home, he never forgot who he was serving and for whom his gifts were intended. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may we too be good stewards, who serve God, not mammon.
Deacon Stephen Petrill