What the Lord says in the Gospel sounds a little strange in some ways.
It sounds like he is commending dishonest behavior.
The steward goes around, and on his own,
is writing down the debts owed to his boss.
But here’s what is going on.
In those times it was common for the person in that job
to juice up the prices charged, and keep the difference.
While we would call that shady, that was more accepted then.
So when the steward learns he’ll lose his job,
he runs around and marks down the bills, giving back that extra,
and in so doing, he makes some new friends.
In other words, he uses his money to secure his future.
The way he did it was in a worldly fashion.
But our Lord is asking us:
are we thinking about our eternal future in how we use our money?
Jesus often warns us about is all the ways
we put trust in all the wrong things.
Wealth is one of those things we can often rely on too much.
It’s not that money is bad; because, in fact, the problem isn’t really with money at all.
Let me say that again: the problem isn’t money…at all!
The problem is us.
Those of us who are a little more…ample,
will sometimes try to blame it on the food.
I don’t about you, but I’ve never had food jump in my mouth!
I’ve never had a beer force itself between my lips!
So what our Lord is saying is, don’t make wealth your goal;
instead, make your goal the good you can do with it.
All of us have some wealth: what good are we doing with it?
If you’re providing a job—that’s very good.
And when we spend our money, to the extent we can,
it’s good to try to do business
with those who better reflect our Catholic values.
Obviously we can’t know everything about every business;
and we can’t police them all.
But look: a lot of us will complain
about the low morals of our entertainment industry—
but if we never deny these media companies, or their sponsors,
our business, what do we expect?
One question many of us might ponder:
are we spending too much on ourselves?
One piece of advice you often hear is, “pay yourself first”—
meaning, put money aside for the future. That’s good advice.
But what about this: when do we pay God?
More concretely, what about making sure we’re putting something aside,
not necessarily for the Church, but for the poor?
One thing the Scriptures say pretty clearly
is that one of the questions Christ will ask us,
on the day of our judgment, will be:
what did you do for the poor?
That applies to how we do business—
and how we vote—
and also, what we do personally,
with our own dollars, our own time,
and our own hands.
Being genuinely concerned for justice for the poor
isn’t the only thing Christ asks of us—
but it’s one thing he tells us to do:
Make friends with the poor—
As part of being friends with God.