Gospel for Sunday, September 18 Luke 16: 1-13
XXV Sunday C
1He also said to the disciples: “There was a rich man who had a manager, and he was accused before him of squandering his possessions. 2He called him and said to him: What is this that I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be a steward. 3The administrator said to himself: What will I do now that my master takes away the administration from me? Hoeing, I have no strength, begging, I’m ashamed. 4I know what to do so that, when I am removed from the administration, there is someone to welcome me into their home. 5He called the master’s debtors one by one and said to the first: 6How much do you owe my master? He replied: One hundred barrels of oil. He said to him: Take your receipt, sit down and write fifty immediately. 7Then he said to another: How much do you owe? He replied: One hundred measures of wheat. He said to him: Take your receipt and write eighty. 8The master praised that dishonest administrator, because he had acted shrewdly. In fact, the children of this world are more cunning towards their peers than the children of light. 9Well, I say to you: Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it is lacking, they will welcome you into eternal homes. 10He who is faithful in little is also faithful in much; and whoever is dishonest in little is also dishonest in much. 11If therefore you have not been faithful in dishonest wealth, who will entrust you with true wealth? 12And if you have not been faithful in other people’s wealth, who will give you yours? 13No servant can serve two masters: either he will hate one and love the other or he will be fond of one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Luke 16: 1-13
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).
Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.
This parable is truly astonishing in which an unmasked cheater, the unfaithful administrator, is praised by his master when he orchestrates a new scam, and always to the detriment of the master himself, to be welcomed, once fired, into the debtors’ houses.
It is surprising that the owner, instead of being angry at yet another fraud, praises that dishonest administrator and is pleased with his cunning.
The teachings that this parable wants to give us are many.
The first is that we often use our cunning, our ingenuity, our talents for many things that don’t matter: for a career, to prevail at work, for success, for a better social arrangement, to assert ourselves or to show off. Instead we should put this zeal towards building the Kingdom of God, towards spreading the Gospel, so that the name of the Lord is praised throughout the earth, so that everyone knows and adores Him.
But above all, in the context of the parable, we should use our ingenuity to understand the deeper meaning of the economy. Possessing goods is not a sin in itself, but it becomes dishonest the moment I do not share what I have with my needier brothers. Wealth is unjust because, as Jesus says, it is always “other people’s wealth” (Lk 16:12), it is the accumulation of goods that should instead be shared. Jesus defines wealth as “dishonest”, “unjust”; in Aramaic the expression “mamon disqar” is used, rendered literally by the Lord in Luke with “mamonàs tes adikìas”, “wealth is unjust” (Lk 16,9) and, more explicitly, with “ò àdikos mamonàs”, “ unjust wealth” (Luke 16:11). Unshared riches are always the fruit of sin, they are goods of which we become “dishonest stewards” (Lk 16.8).
Wealth, which the Gospel presents as the accumulation of goods that should instead be distributed, is defined as “mammon” (Lk 16,9.11.13), the hoarding-idol that contrasts with the God of Love-Gift. The Aramaic word “mamon” (also attested in the Phoenician-Punic language), from which the Greek “mamònas” derives, means “that which is safe, that which can be counted on”; in Hebrew it is “ma’amun”, which has the same root as faith (“emunà”, from which our “amen”); in the Old Testament it appears only in the Hebrew text of Sirach (Sir 31.8), and in the Talmud it designates riches and goods tout court. Note how Ps 37.3: “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the earth and be nourished by trust”, you become, in the Greek text of the LXX: “You will be nourished by his wealth”.
At the time of Jesus, the most current interpretation of the “Shema'”, the “Hear, O Israel” (Dt 6,4-5) was that one should love God “with all your strength”, that is, with all your “mamon”: and this was sometimes interpreted as an invitation to renounce all one’s possessions for the love of God.
“Jesus does not take the word «mammon» from current usage in the social groups to which he is addressing, because there is no news that a divinity of that name was known in Jewish or Galilean circles, or even among the surrounding pagans… This personification of money seems to be a creation of Jesus himself, and if so, it reveals something exceptional about money, since Jesus did not usually make these deifications and personifications” (J. de S. Ana). For Jesus “mammon” personifies money as demonic power.
Jesus is very tough. We cannot claim any private property rights: we are only administrators of goods that God has given us to share with our brothers. The choice is drastic: either remain attached to money, or attach to God.
This is a passage that believers in Western churches always avoid delving into. No one has ever educated them on sharing goods. When we go to confession, we are asked if we go to mass on Sunday, if we pray, if we have cheated on our wife or husband, but we are almost never asked what the value of our bank account is, and why we don’t share our assets. with the poorer brothers. Yet today’s Gospel forcefully calls us to this attitude, that is, to remember that what we have does not belong to us, but is only given to us so that others can benefit from it. When we talk about sharing goods to believers, this speech often goes in one ear and out the other: it seems that they are not even touched by it, that the words of Jesus are like water flowing on marble, that Jesus pronounced them just to say something, maybe joking.
But many injustices in this world exist precisely because we do not know how to share our bread with the hungry, our clothes with the naked, our land with immigrants, our properties with those who have nothing. In this sense, all patristic reflection is unanimous in reminding us of the social destination of goods, which was forcefully underlined both by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (GS, n. 69) and by the Magisterium of the last Popes and by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nn. . 2403-2404). But we continue to turn a deaf ear.
Yet the poor will be our gatekeepers in Heaven (Lk 16.9). They will be the ones who will welcome us into the heavenly homes or not. If we do not understand the centrality of sharing goods in our journey of Faith, we have understood nothing about following the Lord and the path he shows us to reach the Kingdom.
But Jesus not only invites us to share: he asks us to make friends of the poor. This is a further step that is certainly not simple. Because often the poor are not grateful, they are stressful, sometimes they behave badly…: yet the poor must be my friend, one whom I surround with the same love with which Christ surrounds me, and of whom I therefore take charge, considering him not “a assisted”, but a brother, one of the family.
Today’s passage is therefore particularly challenging and demanding. We really need to put ourselves before the Word of God to make a profound examination of conscience and begin a journey of conversion that leads us to that freedom that makes us capable of concretely loving everyone, “not in words or with language, but with deeds and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18), without reservations and without excuses.
Happy Mercy to all!
Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at email@example.com.