God or Mammon?

Photo by Credible Muggins

If it's Thursday, it must be time for me to get serious about my homily and for you to start reading and praying over this week's scriptures! Looking for some commentary to help you understand these texts? Visit this St. Louis University site, scroll down to September 23 and read at least "Getting to Know the Word."

The readings this weekend are both interesting and a bit difficult to understand. There's definitely something there for folks in sales, retail and the stock market. There's a long or short version of the gospel text for me to choose. Which would you choose? What one line in all of this material would you use as the basis for a homily? What do these texts stir within you? How do they touch your life?

Feel free to share your responses in the combox!

This may be of interest to you. Virtually all US parishes read from the New American Bible as the translation of the scriptures used at Sunday and daily Mass. Here, from the NAB is the gospel for this Sunday:
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 mammon.”
Here is the same passage from the Jerusalem Bible translation:
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man and he had a steward denounced to him for being wasteful with his property. He called for the man and said, “What is this I hear about you? Draw me up an account of your stewardship because you are not to be my steward any longer.” Then the steward said to himself, “Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.” Then he called his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, “How much do you owe my master?” “One hundred measures of oil” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond; sit down straight away and write fifty”. To another he said, “And you, sir, how much do you owe?” “One hundred measures of wheat” was the reply. The steward said, “Here, take your bond and write eighty”.

‘The master praised the dishonest steward for his astuteness. For the children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light. ‘And so I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’
Which do you prefer? For what reasons? Care to share?

1 comment:

  1. I like to consider this in light of the Sermon on the Mount. Store up treasures in heaven where moth cannot destroy, rust cannot eat, thieves cannot break in and steal. Meaning, not stuff. What are the treasures in heaven? Couple clues: In Luke's Sermon on the Plain, the four beatitudes are paired with four pronouncements of woes. Look at the woe description. I know that means me and most Americans/first worlders.

    What are treasures in heaven? Only SOULS go there. Whom does God love dearest, according to the OT prophets and the Gospels? Those who are poor, who suffer, the sick, the widow, the orphan, the alien. Religious and political leaders and the rich are low on God's seating chart at the banquet. Not saying they won't be at the banquet, they gotta get their camel selves through that needle-eye first to get there though. How do we described in Luke's woes show the love to God's beloved and pass through that needle-eye?

    Judgement of the Nations in Mt 25. We Catholics don't always have our chapter and verse memorized, but we know our songs. "Whatsoever you dooooo....to the least of my people....that you do unto Meeee." "The Lord hears the cry of the poor..." etc. And that phrase that pops up in homilies, "preferential option for the poor." Whose option? God's option, therefore ours.

    I am proud of Catholics for prioritizing compassion for the poor at home and in the third world, for generosity, for serving the poor face to face, and for staying on message about this issue in the face of an overwhelming individualistic me and Jesus gospel that ignores the poor and sometimes starts worshipping Mammon. This is a salvation issue, according to Jesus' own description of the last judgement, sorting out the sheep and the goats.

    So how do we use Mammon, as tainted as it is, to win friends for the kingdom? By giving up some of our own money for those described in Mt 25. Someone you help is a friend truer than many other light social acquaintances.

    Money is not evil, it's neutral, it's merely a tool. How you use it can carry moral value or defect. It's the LOVE OF money that is the root of evil, leading people to all sorts of selfishness, manipulation, deception, theft, and even murder. Love GOD more than money and you will have the right sort of generosity and handle your own resources rightly, not with a hoarding, insecure, selfish, prideful spirit, but with suitable detachment.

    We read in Sermon of the Mount about God will provide, don't worry. We all hear that and ask, what's in it for me? Instead of, I am abundantly blessed, I have more than I need, the Lord wants to provide for others through me as his instrument, where can I give some money, time, talent, and stuff today? Lord, let me be a blessing!

    I blogged about this in June 2007 under the post title "The Lord hears the cry of the poor." Please read.


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