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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Whom Do You Serve?


Parable of the Crafty Steward“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.
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’” (Luke 16:1-8; 11-13).
 
The crafty manager knows he is on the way out, so he decides to create some friends who can help him when he is thrown out the door. After all, he freely admits that he is not one to beg or dig ditches! But the scheme works even better than expected as the master praises the unrighteous manager for looking after his own interests so well.
 
Some scholars suggest that this parable is about how we are “tested” on earth. Use your wealth and influence wisely on earth, and your reward will be great when you leave this earth. Those who build trust (through good management and appropriate giving) can be trusted with the greatest reward.
 
But Christian discipleship requires even more. No one, Jesus says, can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and wealth.
 
The ending of this parable offers a warning. We can be like the crafty and conniving manager, being successful in the ways of this world and finding ways to get our own cut. Or we can serve the master who survives beyond the “things” of this world. We are frequently tempted to keep our vision limited to simple material existence. Yet we are called to keep our minds and hearts on the prize that the world cannot give.
 
– What are the difficulties of serving two masters—God and wealth—and how do you find the proper balance between them?
 
Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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