(Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2,4-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13)
Being Wise Stewards of God’s Gifts and Graces
The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. (Luke 16:8)
That’s right. The “hero” in this parable is a dishonest man who cheated his way out of a tough situation. Many commentators think the steward had been overcharging his master’s debtors so that he could take the extra money for himself. So by reducing their debts to reflect the amount they actually owed, the steward not only got rid of the evidence of his wrongdoing, he also won over the debtors. With a reputation for generosity and fair play, he could have had any job he wanted!
The prudence that Jesus highlighted in this parable is a matter of skillfully using available resources to accomplish a desired goal. This is the kind of shrewdness that Jesus wants us to take up as well. He’s not asking us to do anything dishonest, of course. But he is asking us to be careful, clever, even calculating as we live in this darkened world.
So what are some ways we can be shrewd? How about when dealing with our own sin? We are all capable of justifying ourselves, overlooking sin or explaining it away when we want to. What’s more, the devil likes to capitalize on that tendency, trying to trick us into sin. So be shrewd! Don’t fall into the trap of easy explanations or feeble excuses.
Or how about when you want to help someone come to know the Lord? You know that simply talking about the Apostles’ Creed won’t likely win people over. You have to find the right approach, the right words, and the right opportunities to share your faith. And that takes some strategizing as well as careful thought and prayer. It takes learning how to be “all things to all” people (1 Corinthians 9:22).
Being shrewd and prudent is the best way to build the kingdom. So may we all learn from today’s “dishonest steward”—without becoming dishonest ourselves!
“Jesus, help me to find creative ways to grow closer to you and to share your love. Lord, make me a shrewd evangelist!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading contains a strong warning to us to be fair and not to “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land” (Amos 8:4). In what ways do we “trample” and “destroy” the poor, when we simply ignore their plight, rather than generously giving of our time, talent, and treasure.
- In the responsorial psalm, we hear again how our God “raises up the lowly” and “lifts up the poor.” In light of these readings, what additional action(s) do you feel the Lord may be calling you to in order to better serve those less fortunate?
- In the second reading, St. Paul strongly encourages prayers for all in authority. He goes on to say that they are “good and pleasing to God.” Is your partisanship so full of “anger or argument” that you might be unable to heed his admonition? Are you willing to pray on a regular basis for the president and all your elected officials, whether you agree with them or not? If not, why not?
- In the Gospel, Jesus tells of the steward who was asked for a “full account” of his stewardship. How would you respond if Christ were to ask you to account for what he has given you? Are you willing to take some additional steps to improve the stewardship of your time, talents, and treasures? Why or why not?
- Jesus also warns those who are not trustworthy “in very small matters.” Can you identify any situations in business, or in your relationships, where you might excuse yourself by saying, “it’s so small it really doesn’t matter?”
- In describing the message of the parable in the Gospel, the meditation states that: “The prudence that Jesus highlighted in this parable is a matter of skillfully using available resources to accomplish a desired goal. This is the kind of shrewdness that Jesus wants us to take up as well. He’s not asking us to do anything dishonest, of course. But he is asking us to be careful, clever, even calculating as we live in this darkened world.” The meditation goes on to describe various ways to be “shrewd and prudent” in order to “build the kingdom.” How would you describe the ways the Lord wants you to be “shrewd and prudent”?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to use the many gifts he has given you in order to draw closer to him, share his love with others, and build his kingdom. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.