My homily given at the 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM Masses at Holy Ghost today.
Readings: Am 8:4-7, Ps 113:1-2, 4-8, 1 Tm 2:1-8, Lk 16:1-13
The Dishonest Steward
Audio Recording of the Gospel Reading and Homily (The audio recording begins with my reading of today’s Gospel from Luke 16:1-13. Click the play button below to listen):
Have you ever lost a job unexpectedly? It seems like today the chances of being called into the boss’ office and being told that your job has been eliminated are much higher than they were, say, 30 years ago. Companies are bought and sold, downsized due to decreasing sales, or perhaps they just go out of business. It’s happened to me and I’m willing to bet it’s happened to many of you here today.
If you haven’t experienced an unexpected loss of your only means of income, then just imagine for a minute that it’s going to happen to you tomorrow. What would you do? Well, if you’re like most people you would immediately begin to start a search for another job. You’d update your resume and your LinkedIn profile.
You’d probably also file for unemployment and you’d try to figure out how you’re going to continue your health insurance. This situation would most likely take most of your attention and your energy. You’d lose sleep over it and would not rest until you found another job. When you lose your job, you think of little else but of finding another job.
In today’s gospel the dishonest steward had this experience. He learned that he was about to lose his job. Upon learning this, he immediately sprung into action and came up with a plan to provide for his financial needs.
For the steward, losing his job was an even a more dire situation than losing a job is for us today. In Jesus’ time there were no unemployment benefits or Cobra plans to provide a way to keep your health insurance. No, the only options for this man seemed to be hard physical labor or begging. The gospel tells us that he was not strong enough for a job of digging and that he was too ashamed to become a beggar.
So, he came up with a plan. It was a dishonest plan that apparently cheated his boss out of money in order to help himself. We’re told that he went to all those who owed the rich man money and he reduced the amount they owed. He did this so these people would be indebted to him and would be likely to help him when he soon found himself out of work.
No, he wasn’t honest, but he was CLEVER and RESOURCEFUL. The rich man soon learned about this plan and what did he do? Did he throw him into prison for this dishonest handling of his debts? No, surprisingly he PRAISED him for his sense of urgency and cleverness.
The parable Jesus tells us today is like all of his parables in the sense that he used everyday experiences to communicate a spiritual truth. Today’s lesson is not about the questionable methods of the dishonest steward. No, it’s about recognizing that which is extremely urgent and taking immediate action to correct it. It’s about waking up from our spiritual slumber and coming to spiritual attention.
Let me ask you a couple of simple questions to see what sort of importance you place on getting your spiritual life in order.
OK, here’s the first question. Who’s more important in your life? Your doctor, who takes care of your physical body or your priest who cares for your soul? We certainly go to see our doctor as soon as something serious comes about in regards to our physical health. Do we immediately go to confession when we commit a mortal sin?
Second question. Is it possible you might be called to meet Jesus in the coming week? Yet, how many of us think about our death? Do we have a sense of urgency to prepare for this meeting? If we truly believe what we profess to believe, we know that we are going to spend all of ETERNITY in one of two places, either in Heaven or in Hell. Don’t you think it might be a good idea to have a sense of urgency about preparing yourself for eternal life when you could be called to it at any time?
So many of us think our spiritual lives will pretty much take care of themselves. We might think “God is love, all is going fairly well.” We may say to ourselves “I go to Mass on Sundays, put a some money in the basket, and I even say my prayers every night. I’m good, right?”
Are you sure you that’s enough? Are you sure that’s all God is asking of you?
Think of it this way. What if you told your boss that you were only going to come to work 1 hour a week and maybe do a little something for him from time to time. Maybe you’d also remember him just before going to sleep at night. How long do you think you’d keep your job if this was your attitude?
So, just how should we think about spiritual matters? What do we really believe about the state of our souls? Do you really believe that spiritual matters are more important than material matters?
Are we convinced that a threat to our spiritual welfare – the chance that we could LOSE our souls – can be even more grave than threats to our finances or our health? And, are we willing to ACT on this threat? THIS is the question at the heart of today’s gospel.
What is the spiritual life all about? It’s about our RELATIONSHIP to God, to Jesus the Son, who Paul tells us in today’s second reading is the one mediator between God and men. Jesus Christ is our ONLY link to eternal life. If we truly believe what we profess to believe, we must our nurture relationship with him. THIS is truly THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in our lives.
The Gospels tell us this over and over again. Our relationship with God is more important than our family, our riches, our very lives. Jesus tells us that it profits the soul NOTHING to gain the whole world and lose your soul. If you lose your link to God by not developing a true friendship with Jesus, you can have it all and yet have nothing. Friends talk to each other and they do things for each other. Are we spending time with Jesus, our most important friend?
Like the steward in today’s gospel, we must all take immediate action and be resourceful in how we provide for the most important needs of our lives. We must spend time attending to the needs of our eternal soul.
Let us ask the Lord as we approach and receive him during Holy Communion today that he will help us to take seriously what our faith teaches us about our eternal salvation and spring into action to make the changes we need to make for the health of our spiritual lives.
By making these changes, when the time comes for you to meet Jesus, perhaps much sooner than you think, you’ll be able to meet him with a clear conscience and in a state of grace. Remember, the only thing you take with you to that encounter at the moment of your death is the love you have shown him by way of how you have treated others.
Are YOU willing to invest the time necessary each day to properly care for your soul? Are you ready to meet Jesus if he comes for you today?