Am. 8:4-7; Ps. 113; 1 Tm. 2:1-8; Lk. 16:1-13
(Audio recorded live, 18 September 2022)
“[M]ake friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” This teaching of Jesus makes us think. What does he mean by making friends with dishonest wealth? Our readings today teach us how God views certain business practices and how we are to make use of wealth in the world.
The prophet Amos reveals the corrupt business practices of the people of Israel. They could not wait for their religious feasts and the Sabbath to end so they could go back to selling their goods. Rather than giving to God what is owed to God, namely, thanksgiving and praise, they were more focused on money. Amos describes how they amassed dishonest wealth by cheating their scales and selling the refuse. They bought the lowly for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals. In other words, they made the less fortunate into debt slaves. But, the Lord God says, “Never will I forget a thing they have done!”
Consider that God is omniscient, that is, all-knowing. This is one of the many qualities of God. That God is omniscient means he possesses the most perfect knowledge of all things. This includes our thoughts and actions. As it says in the Book of Jeremiah, “I, the LORD, explore the mind and test the heart,” (Jer. 17:10) and in the psalms, “LORD, you have probed me, you know me…” (Ps. 139:1). We do well then, to consider our thoughts and actions, especially those actions that pertain to others.
Jesus teaches his disciples to make friends with dishonest wealth. He does not mean that we should acquire wealth through dishonest means, but rather that we make friends through blessing others. In other words, we should use the monetary resources we acquire in the world to reach out to others. The result will be friendships that endure into eternity. Jesus asks, “If…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?”
This teaching of Jesus is not so much about money as it is about having a proper spiritual disposition towards one another. How would you feel if someone cheated you or stole from you? How would you feel if you loaned your neighbor a tool and he brought it back broken? Anger comes to mind, dissatisfaction, disgust, enmity, which are all negative spiritual dispositions that arise from such situations. But, Jesus is calling us to be trustworthy stewards of God’s good gifts, and to make friends by sharing those gifts. These are positive spiritual gifts, the only kind we can truly store up in heaven.
St. Paul focuses on the importance of a healthy spiritual life. He says, “First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity.” He goes on to say, “It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.” This exhortation should catch the attention of all men and women. It has been said that many of the problems we face in the world today are because good men and women stopped praying. They have become like the dishonest steward, becoming shrewd for the sake of personal gain rather than becoming wise in what matters to God.
How often are we praying? How often do we get down on our knees and pray to the God who gave us life? And yes, Mass does count, but what about daily? When we wake up in the morning, do we say, “Good morning God,” or do we say, “Good God, morning!” Ever day is a blessing and therefore an opportunity for us to share blessings with others, as Jesus encourages in the gospel.
Jesus says, “No servant can serve two masters,” so let us serve the One True God, who so loved the world he sent his only Son so that all who believe in him might not perish, but might have eternal life. And may the communion we share today help us to be more aware of his presence in our life, and the amazing benefits of his grace, so that we may share those spiritual benefits with others. By so doing, we can use the things of this world to serve a higher purpose: We can carry out God’s will, and be welcomed into eternal dwellings.