Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

25th Sunday C

The Gospel today speaks about stewardship. A steward is a person who is made responsible to handle the goods and property of his employer. The steward in the Gospel for today was a bad steward because he was wasteful of his master’s property. The steward/manager was certainly dishonest.  He clearly squandered his master’s property and was being fired because of it.  But it is important that we understand correctly what his actions were, once his dishonesty had been found out.  Normally we presume that when he brought in his master’s debtors and reduced their bills that he was further cheating his master.  But this is not the case.  In the ancient world managers were given their income through commission.  When the manager in the parable reduced the debtors’ bills, he was not removing his master’s profit but his own.  His hope was that by giving back to the debtors what was his own, they would recognize his shrewdness and generosity.  Then, once he was fired, they might welcome him into their own financial operations.  It was a risk to be sure.  There was no guarantee that the debtors would respond in this way.

First, we need to note the dishonest manager had the insight to size up his situation and realize that the only possibility for future employment and security was to give away what he presently possessed. Looking into our situation, everything we have is a gift: our life, our time, our relationships, our health, our money. This realization should certainly lead us to thankfulness. But thankfulness is not enough. Thankfulness must give way to generosity. For generosity is the sign of the kingdom of God. The person who understands God’s kingdom understands that everything we have has been given to us to share.  Faithful stewardship requires giving back part of what we have been given. It is this insight and this action that Jesus commends and invites us to imitate.  Because Jesus knows that if we correctly size up our present situation, we will realize that the only way to our future security is to give away some of what we possess today.

Why is giving back so important?  It is important for two reasons: others need it and generosity is good for us.  There is no doubt that others need the things that we possess.  You cannot go more than two feet without running into one of the many needs that exist in our world.  People need our time, our presence, our money.  God loves all people. So whenever anyone is hungry or sick or depressed God is counting on us and on our resources to help that person.  Christians know this better than anyone else because the Gospel tells us that whatever we fail to do for the least of our brothers or sisters we fail to do for Jesus. Therefore, refusing to share what we have been given is a bad idea, a poor decision. Our relationship to God is connected to our generosity to others.  We give because others are in need.

The deepest joy in life is giving out of love. Parents know this. Lovers know this.  Sometimes we think that what is going to make us happy is to hold onto our time, to conserve our talents, to hoard our money. But this is not true. Joy comes from giving, giving freely and with love. The deepest moments of joy occur in the context of generosity. Everything you have is a gift, a gift for which to be thankful and a gift to share. Holding onto the things we have been given will not make us happy. Giving what we have away will help others and give us the deepest joy.

When the dishonest manager in the gospel saw how things stood, he did not hesitate. He swung into action. He started giving away what he had. We are called to follow his example. This week you will be given time, the opportunity to use your talents, and money. You could choose to hold onto all of these things and use them only for yourself, but that would be a bad idea, a poor investment.  The gospel today poses a wiser and more helpful question. It asks us, “This week, how much of your time and your talent and your money are you willing to give away?”

Fr. Roldan Zerna, MSP

Okinawa, Japan


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