Greed Breeds Dishonesty

Luke 16: 9-15
Rom 16: 3-9,16,22-27 / Ps 145

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.
(Luke 16:13)

We can become poor in wisdom,
Or other things like power and health;
But if it keeps us from God’s kingdom,
The worst poverty of all is wealth.

Jesus said, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you may be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is faithful in small matters is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful 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.” (Luke 16: 9-15)

Reflection

In the earlier part of this parable narrative (16:8), the master of the dishonest steward ‘commended’ him for his astuteness, because he probably saw himself in his servant’s shrewd schemes. They are “thick as thieves” who appreciate the abilities of “their own kind”. Jesus said, “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth…” It is only when a business based on dishonest wealth fails that a bankrupt man comes to his senses and is eventually “welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Lk.16:9).

Millions, even hundreds of millions are profited in ‘shady deals’ such as graft and corruption activities in high government offices, and in the high stakes trading in the stock market. The manipulation of the prices of stocks and overvaluation of real estate ‘derivatives’ by unscrupulous bank executives and traders resulted in the bankruptcies of hundreds of thousands of companies and individuals that led to the global economic crisis last year. In the local scene, we witnessed the shameful drama of a fugitive government undersecretary, who was the principal in the illegal disbursements of more than seven hundred million Pesos in public funds. This government executive was once envied by many for his astute wheeling and dealing in the corridors of power, and was even appointed Treasurer of a prestigious international service organization that advocates truth, fairness and justice. Divine Justice finally revealed how he was “snared by his own misdeeds, and caught in the meshes of his folly” (Prov.5:23).

There is only one reason why man turns from God to mammon. It is greed, that obsessive desire for perpetual security. And how blind the greedy are, because there is nothing perpetual in this world. It is not how much man acquires but how much he has given that makes him immortal. Generosity perpetuates our name; greed diminishes it. And if, because of greed we cannot be faithful with that tainted thing called ‘wealth’, how can we be entrusted with the true riches of heaven?

Jesus tells us, “No man can serve two masters.” Who is the Master in charge of my life? Is it the love of material possessions? The pride and power of position and prestige? Is it the raging passion for women? Or addiction to food, alcohol or drugs? There is only one Master who can free us from our slavery to sin and material addictions. That Master is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord and giver of light, and we are the children of light.

Lord, let Your love burn brightly in our hearts so that we may never be distracted. Free us from greed and enslavement to all material things with your grace of generosity. Help us 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 help propagate Your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

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