Mammon Vs. True Riches

Luke 16: 9-15
Rom 16:3-9.16.22-27 / Ps 145

If then you have not been trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?
(Luke 16:11)

To win the confidence of friends
We take the path of integrity;
But the greatest reward depends
On our prudence and fidelity.

“And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes. Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.”

Reflection

The message in today’s Gospel is quite difficult to comprehend, especially coming after Jesus related His parable of the dishonest steward, where He even commended the steward’s craftiness. Was he condoning the desperate schemes of the steward who cheated on his master for the benefit of his master’s debtors, so that when he got fired from his job he could be “welcome in their homes?” Our Lord’s stand only becomes clearer when He said: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of Light.” (Lk.16:8)

More likely, what our Lord meant when he said “make friends with dishonest wealth” was for His followers to imitate Him in mingling with “tax collectors and sinners”, to evangelize the marketplace. And that “when it fails” (our material pursuits, worldly business ventures), we will in fact have a better chance of going to heaven than when it prospers. Most people turn away from God when they become rich. Failure with mammon may therefore lead to success with God. This reminds me of a friend who never came to establish a personal relationship with Jesus until his business went bankrupt, his house and lot were foreclosed, and his wife had left him. In the darkest period of his life, he finally learned how to pray. It had to take a series of crises to make him realize how important God is in his life. Happier now, he said he is grateful for his losses, because through them he has found true riches.

You made us see, Lord, that prudence and fidelity are more important than craftiness and business acumen. Remind us always to be honest not only in large matters but in small ones as well, because great sins develop from little indiscretions. Help us, dear Saviour in these times of economic difficulties to be more honest in our work, to be models of true service and integrity. For it is only by such good examples that we can give glory to Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

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