Saturday, September 22, 2007
25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - C
Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the
land! "When will the new moon be over," you ask, "that we may sell
our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will
diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for
cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair
of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!" The LORD has
sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have
1 TIMOTHY 2:1-8
Beloved: 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. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills
everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there
is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, the man
Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the
testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and
apostle --I am speaking the truth, I am not lying--, teacher of the
Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every
place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or
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. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with
dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into
eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small
matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is
dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. 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
Today's Gospel probably puzzled you. An employee, who cheats on his
employer, a manager, who manipulates his master's money to make
friends upon losing his job. And a master, with Jesus' approval,
praising the dishonest manager "because he had acted shrewdly!" Is
this the morality with which the Vatican II sent the laity into the
world "to penetrate and perfect the temporal sphere with the spirit
of the Gospel?" Clever operators?
This is one of the most challenging parables even for a Jesuit to
explain. And still, it comes from the mouth of God's Son, and it says
something terribly important for your life and mine. But to
understand that, we must address three issues: 1. What did the
parable mean in Jesus' own mind? 2. What application did the early
Christians derive from the parables? 3. What might the parable say to
you and me today?
First then, what did the parable mean in Jesus' own mind? Let's
paraphrase the parable. There is a rich man, who owns quite a large
estate. This landowner has a manager. The manager's job? - To handle
the finances of the estate. He has a wide range of power, much leeway
for discretion, equivalent to an accountant and loan shark. He keeps
his master's accounts, can contract loans in the owner's name. He may
even liquidate debts.
But one day our manager gets his summons. He is accused of
dishonesty. Who accuses him? We don't know. What is the charge?
Squandering his master's property. How exactly? We are not told. Is
it neglect, swindling, poor judgment? At any rate, the owner summons
him, that's it! No discussion; the case is closed. "You're fired. But
before you pack up, prepare an inventory, tell me who owes me and how
The manager goes out. Outside the office he sits down in deep
thought. "What shall I do? I'm not macho enough for physical labor.
My hands are far too soft. I won't do unskilled labor, that's beneath
my dignity.... Aha! I've got it! A super idea! If this works out, I've
got it made. People will welcome me, when I leave here, because of
utang na loob. They owe me.
Quickly he summons his master's debtors, all those with whom he had
made deals. "You. Your IOU reads a thousand gallons of olive oil,
correct? Write a new IOU. Cut your debt to half. Put down on 500
gallons. Take out my interest, the 500 gallons I charge you." "You.
Your IOU reads a thousand bushels of wheat, correct? Write a new IOU.
Forget my 25% interest. Simply write 800 bushels, exactly what you
owe my master." No dishonesty here. This is not the squandering for
which the owner fired him. The manager is playing within the economic
rules; he is giving up not his master's rightful return, only the
interest he himself charged, his interest.
Somehow the master hears about the deals. His reaction? Anger? No,
sir! He shakes his head in admiration: "Clever guy! I fired him and
he trades on disaster to ensure his future."
And Jesus: What precisely is he approving? And what has this parable
to do with the kingdom of God? Simply this. The dishonest manager, at
a critical moment in his life, when his entire future was at stake,
acted decisively to cope with the crisis, planned shrewdly to secure
his future. Similarly for Christians, Jesus' preaching of the kingdom
brings a crisis into their lives. We have to act decisively, plan
shrewdly, to ensure a place in God's kingdom. That is where the
parable proper ends: "And the master praised that dishonest manager,
because he had acted shrewdly."
If this sounds terribly abstract to you, for your consolation, the
early Christians seemed to feel the same way. After the death of
Jesus, the parable was told and retold, at times and places where
Christians were puzzled about its meaning - and didn't have a Jesuit
to explain it! The result? Much moralizing over a cup of coffee.
That's how you have the last part of today's Gospel: three
applications, three concrete directives for living, which the
generation after Jesus concluded from a puzzling parable.
Application 1: Make wise use of material possessions - what Luke
calls "the mammon of dishonesty," dishonesty not because material
things are evil in themselves, but because they can seduce you, lead
you to dishonesty. Here we are faced with a gem of wisdom that should
trouble any follower of Christ: "The children of this world are
shrewder in dealing with their own generation than are the children
of the light." Meaning what? Meaning this: Men and women, whose
outlook on life is totally conditioned, solely shaped, by this world;
men and women, who have no interest whatever in the godly aspects of
human existence, are shrewder in dealing with their own kind that are
the disciples of Christ in making their way to the goal that is God.
Unbelievers put us to shame. Imitate their shrewdness!
Application 2 focuses on day-to-day fidelity. If you cannot be
trusted with my lunch money, why should I trust you with my financial
investment? If you are reckless in driving a broken down jeep, I'm
not at all sure that you'll do better with my BMW.
Application 3 is a general attitude toward wealth: "You cannot serve
both God and mammon." Not that you cannot have both; simply you
cannot make both your master. Which of the two will you serve? If
gold is your god, the God of Jesus Christ is not. Choose!
So much for the parable Jesus intended it, so much for what the early
Christians drew from it. Now what of you and me? What might it say to
you and me? What is Christ saying to you through the same parable
today? For that you have to listen, not so much to me as to him. You
have to say with the boy Samuel in the temple: "Speak Lord, for your
servant is listening."
The basic link between the first century and the Third Millennium is
what Jesus hinted at the close of the parable. Each of us has been
put in a crisis situation. Not from kidnappers, hold-uppers, bank
robbers, not from terrorists or nuclear bombs, or the coming
semestral exams, not because a boss had given a termination notice,
each Christian, rich or poor, insecure or happy-go-lucky, has to face
up to a crisis - perhaps once, perhaps often, because the kingdom of
God has been preached not only to the first century Jews, but to each
The Kingdom of God is not a place, like America, or Canada, or the
Middle East or Europe. The Kingdom of God, the heart of Jesus'
preaching, is the rule of Christ over the human heart. Not political
power, he is King of hearts, of our heart. "You are not your own,"
St. Paul insists to the Christians of Corinth, "you were bought with
a price." What price? "The precious blood of Christ."
If we ask the young people of today what are the important goals of
their lives, the answer would most likely be money, power, and fame.
To the Christian eyes there is great danger in aspiring for these.
Why dangerous? Because they tend to lead us to evil: to dishonesty,
injustice, selfishness, and the destruction of the human spirit.
When? Whenever goal number one is not God; whenever our primary
purpose is not the age-old catechism response, "God made me to
praise, reverence, and serve Him."; whenever to be alive does not
mean, in the first place, life in Christ; whenever money, power, and
reputation become gods, your masters instead of your servants.
The parable of the Dishonest Manager is a challenge to every
Christian, more especially if we are gifted with the good things of
earth, or hold in our hands the living or dying of others.
So then, look into your heart this Sunday of crisis. Discover what
towers on top of your list of goals. See where God stands on the
list, where money, power, fame, whatever. Then, like our manager
friend but even more shrewdly, take the IOU you have with God, rip it
up, write a new one - this time not less, but more, this time in tune
with the command of Old Testament and New: "I shall love the Lord my
God with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind, all my
strength." And while you're at it, you might as well add: "And I
shall love others, all others as I love myself."
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
... for the strength, healing and speedy recovery of:
- Damaso Guevara
- Jose Lim
- Lisa Lo
- Julie Manzon, Glenda Bisco, Delly David, Charlie Castro
- Marietta Climaco
- father of Karen Jones
- Fr. John Weyer
- Tom Diokno
... for Ms. Genoveva S. Sunpayco
... for the personal intentions of:
- Guevara family
- San Juan de Dios Hospital
- Aurie Trillana
- Glenn & Julie Manzon, Ma. Fe De Castor, Joel & Glenda Bisco,
Estileta & Buds Escamilla, Churchill & Maricho Barayoga, Mary &
Charlie Castro, Nolie & Joe Caparida
- Jasmin, Pe Family
- Trinna, Chibu and Noc
... for the eternal repose of the souls of
- Domingo Barayoga Sr, Lourdes Barayoga, Allan Manzanilla
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Carlos Caw Chen Chion
- Birthday: Irene Nacilla King
- Birthday: Toby Morabe
- In Memoriam (+): Crescencia D. Lao
... for world peace and reconciliation.
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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