25th Sun [C] 2007

Fr. Charles Irvin

Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

The teaching of Jesus we heard in today’s Gospel is part of a series of teachings that St. Luke presents to us. Many of the teachings use stories and parables about money and possessions. Jesus knows us quite well, doesn’t He? He knows of our fascination with money and possessions – how near and dear they are to our hearts, and what we’ll do in order to acquire more money and buy more things.

Last Sunday we heard of the prodigal son and the fact that his heart was captivated by money. He received his share of inheritance from his father. The expression: “Be careful about what you ask for, you may get it” applies here. That younger son got what he wanted — and, boy, did it give him misery! Next Sunday we will hear yet another story about wealth, possessions, and what they can do to our hearts and souls. It’s the story about the rich man living in the lap of luxury while Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, sits at his gate.

Here today we have yet another parable involving money, its use and its misuse. A couple of things we should note. One is that the devious steward did just cheat his master; he was also giving up his commission as well, his percentage on the sale of his master’s products. Moreover he was decisive, and he was quick to act. He wanted to make some new friends in a hurry, good friends that would be quite willing to care for him once he lost his job.

You and I live in a surrounding culture that is focused on immediate gratification. We have instant this, and instant that. Instant dinners, instant responses on our computers, instant headache remedies, quick cures from many of our other maladies, and instant service wherever we shop. Delayed gratification is not for us. We want to get what we want, and we want to get it now! The Internet was made for us.

As for looking down the line? Well, that’s nice, but occupies less of our attention spans. Foresight? Well, that’s for professionals. We don’t want to be bothered by such details so we pay our professionals to do that for us.

Okay, so we Americans are skilled at acquiring the things of this world and acquiring them cheaply and quickly. But what about our souls, and the things of the spirit? What about our relationships with others?

Too often our relationships with others are characterized by shallowness, superficiality, and lack of quality time and attention. We give our spouses and our children a few minutes here and a few minutes there. We want our Sunday Masses to last no more than sixty minutes. Our television shows, and our days are limited to sixty-minute intervals, and we want our Sunday worship to fit into the same time frame. In other words, we want sixty minutes worth of salvation. We’d better be careful because we may get what we want – sixty minutes of salvation and that’s all.

To be prudent and foresightful we should be asking ourselves some questions today. On the day you die, what will you be giving to God? He gave you life, what did you do with it? Will God be asking you how many laws, rules, and regulations you observed and did not break, or will He ask you about what you loved and, more importantly, who you loved? Whom did you love and how did you love them?

God also gave you time. To whom did you give your time and to what did you give your time? Was you life all about acquiring things? Or was your life about sharing your self with your friends? Or those who needed your time and attention?

And how much of your life did you share with God?

Foresight is all about looking ahead. So is prudence. That’s what the unjust steward in today’s parable was all about.

Jesus is calling us to pay attention to what we want and how to attain to what we want. Foresight and prudence are the keys to today’s parable; they ought to be the keys that open the doors to our own successful lives, lives spent in shaping and molding us so we can enter into eternal life with values and treasures that matter, matter forever in eternity.

We all have, each one of us, our own indebtedness to God. We have sinned and we owe God our repentant hearts. We need to ask God for forgiveness of our debts. Giving to the poor is a way we can reduce out debts. Standing with those who are friendless is another way of canceling out debts to God. Caring for those who hunger to be noticed and thirst for friendship is another way.

Today is a day when we can look ahead not only to what we want in this life but what awaits us in the next life. It’s not only the foresightful thing to do, it’s the prudent thing to do. The steward in today’s parable acted prudently, decisively, and quickly. So should we when it comes to the salvation of our souls.

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”