This Sunday’s Readings are all about stewardship.
The people in the time of Amos were enjoying a great time of prosperity but there were sharp contrasts between rich and poor and many instances of inequality and injustice. Amos responds by challenging the people of his time. Their behaviour was going against what they professed to believe. They could hardly wait for their days of religious obligation to be over so that they could continue the business of accumulating wealth at the expense of others. This reading speaks very much to the situation of today. Inequitable sharing of the world’s resources largely contributes to the tensions we have in the world today.
The Gospel Parable of the Dishonest Steward is puzzling at first glance. It seems that the steward having been dishonest once is being praised for continuing to rob his master of his rightful income. Certainly, he had been dishonest in the first instance. He had squandered his master’s inheritance and was being dismissed as a result. However, it was his subsequent actions that Jesus was praising. In that time Stewards were given autonomy to enact business transactions on behalf of their master. They were also able to work out their own commission as it was their only source of income.
Therefore, when the Steward reduced the debt of the Master’s debtors, he was not cutting his Master’s commission but rather his own. He was trying to secure his future by building up goodwill with the master’s debtors in the hope that they in turn might look after him when he would be no longer employed. But he had to give away what he has in order to achieve this. This is what Jesus praises.
Both readings invite us to reflect on what kind of steward am I over all that has been given to me? It does include money and possessions, but it is not only about that. All of life is to be seen a gift: our health, our time, our relationships, our money and possessions. This realisation should certainly lead us to thankfulness. However, that on its own is not enough. Thankfulness must give way to generosity. The people in the time of St Paul in today’s second reading give a great example of generosity. Despite being oppressed by the authorities they still pray for their good.
Therefore, am I a person who tries to see God present in others? Do I ever serve others without hoping to seek any gain? Am I filled with the compassion of Christ for others? Is my attitude and behaviour consistent with what I profess to believe?
When the Dishonest Steward saw how things stood, he subsequently started giving away what he had. It is this action that Jesus wants us to imitate.