This Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) reminds us that we are stewards of many gifts in this life. Just as the steward of the rich man in today’s Gospel (Luke 16:1-13) was eventually called upon by his master to give an accounting of his stewardship, so each of us.
At first blush, we can get the sense the Gospel is about wealth and property. These are only the worldly realities being discussed by Jesus, and probably why we so readily focus on them in this Gospel, and it is important to pay attention to this element of our daily life. But Jesus is calling us to look beyond this world to ‘eternal dwellings.’ He is calling our attention to the things that truly matter in order to become rich in what matters to God.
As most often is the case, the Gospel antiphon gives an insight for interpreting this Gospel, as does the context of the other readings offered for the day. The antiphon is a Pauline passage: “Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Christ, the man-God gave up his rightful place in heaven to dwell among us. Christ, in true ‘authority’ made himself the greatest by becoming the least and servant of all. This is true ‘authority,’ to serve, to practice charity, to place the needs of others above one’s own.
The readings also make a direct correlation in our good stewardship to others. We were not redeemed in isolation as individuals. Our faith life, our life in Christ, calls us to recognize others and that we have an innate human order or nature that calls us to be in solidarity and communion with other people, particularly those who are poor and needy. (Amos 8:4-7) This internal moral order of the human person is what imposes ethical norms upon us and society in our business, political, scientific and human interactions with others.
This is why St. Paul in his Letter to Timothy today calls us to “pray for everyone, kings and for all in authority.” He also reminds us that there is “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all.” (1 Timothy 2:1-8) All in authority exercise only what has been shared with them by God, and have a great responsibility of ‘service’ for the common good of all.
In the Gospel today, the steward is told to give an account of his stewardship, because it is about to come to an end. Fearful of his ability to provide for himself once dismissed, he calls in the ‘master’s debtors.’ He gives them their promissory notes and allows them to reduce the debt they owe. The master commends him for such prudent action.
In reality, the Master is God. The Good Steward is Jesus Christ. Christ has given each of us our own promissory notes recording our debt of sin and said: “I will reduce this note to zero.” This is the heart and soul of the riches of God shared with us in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. It is from this treasure we are called to act justly with others.
Each of us has been entrusted with treasure; the gifts of life, faith, creation, and the list grows for each individually from there. May we bring our faith to bear in all aspects of life. May our faith lead to a great generosity in concrete expression of love for others, particularly the poor and needy. May our stewardship of these many gifts and treasures from God find us worthy in God’s sight to be welcomed into eternal dwellings.