Our gospel parable is about a shrewd, manipulating and devious manager who was fixing his boss’s books. Obviously this rich man had a whistle blower on his staff that let his boss know that the manager of his affairs was robbing him blind. The manager is called into the boss’s office and fired. Before he leaves he makes a few more deals, does a few more favors for his master’s debtors hoping they will take care of him when he’s out on the street. He fixes the books in their favor.
We see this in our day when we hear of moneyed people having accounts off shore to avoid paying taxes or investment brokers or wealth managers who lure their clients into deals that promise great returns only to find out they’ve been scammed. How many people have been caught in Ponzi schemes only to left high and dry when the too good to be true deal falls through? It all comes down to greed.
In our first reading we hear Amos, the prophet of social justice, denouncing the rich who just cannot wait for the new moon festival or the Sabbath day to be over so that they can get back to their devious business and make their profits by cheating and exploiting the poor and sometimes the greedy rich with their shady ways of doing business. Again, it’s greed, our innate desire for more and more.
In the parable the master could have had his manager charged with theft but instead he admires his manager’s craftiness. Jesus makes the observation, if only his followers showed that same shrewdness in the way they lived their lives as did this crooked manager they would be better off. Jesus wants the children of this age – in other translations they are called the children of light, those enlightened by his teachings and example, men and women such as ourselves to be as shrewd.We too are to be clever opportunists, using whatever wealth we have, be it great or little, in the ways that Jesus always tells us, sharing with those who have less, feeding the poor, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, helping refugees come to Canada and live new lives and all the while asking nothing in return. In the mind of Jesus money is for persons and the only proper use of it is in sharing – sharing with those who have less.
We’ve heard the teaching of Jesus so many times, ‘you cannot serve two masters, and you cannot serve God and money. We’ve heard this question before,’ do you own your possessions or do they own you’? Do you manage them or do you manage them?
Common sense tells us there is nothing wrong with being successful and well off. We know too there is nothing right about being hard up, living on the edge, surviving from pay check to pay check. The question is, are we tight fisted, grasping what possesses us or are we willing to share our good fortune with those not so blessed? Our lives will be judge on how we shared whatever we had be it much or little? If much, – did we write a generous check. If little, did we put a little more water in the soup? Did we share?
In this Eucharist Jesus shares himself with us, this is my body take and eat, this is my blood, take and drink. May his generosity with us inspire us to be generous with others.