Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What To Do With Filthy Lucre--Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, September 23, 2007

September 23, 2007 Year C

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time/17th Sunday After Pentecost

Reflections on the Readings

By Dennis Hankins

Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8

I Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

Theme:  What To Do With Filthy Lucre

You cannot serve God and mammon!

This Gospel reading is known as The Parable of the Dishonest Steward.  And that is exactly what he is.  He is dishonest, wasteful and a cheat!  Howbeit, he is shrewd.  As the prospect of losing his job loomed before him, he quickly made last minute deals with his employer's debtors.  It was what we would call, quid pro quo.  Or, I'll scratch your back if you promise to scratch mine.  

There was nothing honest or even right in this action taken by the steward.  But the boss, probably a shrewd man himself, commended the dishonest servant.  It's here we scratch our heads and say, "Uh?"  Well, it was absolutely brilliant.  Ill gotten gain can make strange bed fellows.  But don't think for a minute that this dishonest servant let any of these debtors forget!

And therein is the problem and the possibility.  

The sons of light should never be controlled by filthy lucre, which is unrighteous mammon.  But with it we can befriend the bruised and the abandoned.  And it is they, the lost, the least and the lonely who will rise up and call you blessed when nothing else but friendship is left.  

Today's Gospel stops at verse 13.  But it is verse 14 that is the key to the reading today.  There we read, the Pharisees, who were lovers of money heard all this, and they scoffed at him.  

If money is your god, then God isn't.  And the Pharisees were notorious for not lifting a finger to aid another in his burden. They were not lovers of God, but rather lovers of money.  

It is generosity that characterizes the lover of God.  A mean spirited, tight fisted, money-grubbing scrooge needs transformation.  And it is this transformation that inspires generosity.  One cannot really lift up his heart as he withholds his hand.  No servant can serve two masters.  

To be like God is to be merciful and kind and tenderhearted.  Father God in his tender kindness, gave his only begotten Son, because he wills everyone to be saved

and to come to knowledge of the truth. 

He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor

to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.

Remaining untainted by unrighteous mammon is possible if we are lovers of God and neighbor.  Put God first in your affections and in your assets and you will possess the true riches.  

Let us pray:  Dear Jesus, for my sake you became poor that I through your poverty might be made rich.  Remind me that to whom much is given, much is required.  I ask for grace and strength to be faithful in the little ways.  I ask for a generous heart.  I ask for true riches which moth and rust do not corrupt and to which thieves have no access.  Amen. 

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