Gospel reading : Saint Luke 16, v 1-13
"We are all stewards"
When it comes to money, many people are keen. But that is not why money is mentioned quite often in the gospels. What the parables in which money is concerned want to make clear, among other things, is that the way people deal with money determines their relationship to God. Of course, money plays a central role in our dealings with other people. But it also plays a central role in our relationship to God. The gospel tells everyone: you cannot serve two masters, God and the Mammon, the money idol. If you are a slave to your possession, you cannot be free for God.
Today's parable is about a steward. Someone who has to manage the master's possessions and make them pay off. We also regularly encounter stewards in the gospels. Not surprising. Because we are all stewards! In many places throughout the Bible we find the thought that we are actually not the owners of everything we own. All we have, we actually received from the Creator, even though we may have worked hard for it ourselves. Ownership is very relative. We have what we have on loan. In a sense, we are officials of our own property. And we are accountable for the way we use it. What do we do with it?
What did the steward of the parable do with what had been entrusted to him? He has, to put it mildly, not been a model of good management. He has abused his office to exploit other people, and with that income he has made a good impression of himself. He is going to get the punch from his boss. And you see him calculate: "Oops, that doesn't look so good. After my discharge, I actually need all the people I have squeezed out for years. Because otherwise I am on my own. And who will then look after me? "That is why he is going to make them a friend, and see: the impossible suddenly becomes possible. Every debtor immediately receives a substantial debt,so far as to praise him, no doubt to the great annoyance of those who heard Jesus tell the story. What do we get now, they must have thought, an unscrupulous deceiver who receives applause! But Jesus said: "Take an example. If only the children of light were as smart and resourceful as the steward, a child of this world! "
So often money is used badly - say - unjustly. Christians are not allowed to participate. Money is for acquiring your good friends with it. The steward has done that. But the friends that really matter are good friends in heaven. They "will receive you in the eternal tents". In other words, it is important that we make God a friend by dealing with money. And it goes without saying that God is not our friend when we turn money into our idol.
It always strikes me again and I think you must also notice: money, the mud of the earth, is elevated to God. We no longer build churches; we convert them into museums. The impressive buildings that are now being erected are temples of money. Take a look around, wherever you live or come: in the inner cities, along the motorways. They are impressively displayed, the billion temples of money.
But don't get me wrong now. We need money. It is an indispensable means of exchange, it embodies our purchasing power, it is a necessary food. But idolatry starts as soon as we start to reverse the relationships, as soon as money is no longer a means for something else but everything else is made a means for money. The money contains the strongest and most terrible temptation for idolatry. Whoever serves the money as his lord can no longer serve God. He has betrayed God. He who betrays God betrays his fellow men. Were Christians, who must be children of the light, but just as clever and resourceful as the children of darkness! For example, clever and resourceful in sharing. The world would look very different if there was more and wise sharing. Less hatred, less violence and less needless sorrow would be sown and we would experience more friendship and respect ourselves.
Let me summarize it that way. Christians who understand the steward's parable well should excel through their creative imagination. Thinking of new ways and means and trying to touch the heart of their fellow men with the gospel message.
Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church/Original Province,
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne,