Wealth For  Promoting Human Dignity

Weekly Missionary Reflection
25th Sunday in ordinary time, 18 September 2022

Prov. 8:4-7; Ps. 113:1-2,4-6,7-8; 1Tim. 2:1-8; Luk. 16:1-13 (long) or Luk. 16:10-13 (short)

This is a difficult parable. How can a dishonest steward be praised and become an example? The Lord’s stories contain a lot of surprises, such as: using a Samaritan as an example, not a Priest or a Levite. Or all workers are paid equally disregard of their working hours. Or a thief coming at night is used to describe the coming of the Son of Man. The “no good” characters are often presented, not to copy their characters or traits, but to learn from one of their actions.

So does Jesus mean in this story? He does not want His listeners to copy the dishonesty of the steward. He just focuses on his shrewdness and agility to take decisions in facing a crisis. That is the only part that the Lord praises, not the corruption and guile. First message: “the children of the light” must copy the action of “the children of the world”, that is instantly taking the decision to follow Jesus (v. 8). Do not just sit back and be idle in front of the urgency of the demand of the Kingdom of God, which has been presented in Jesus and His ministry. That is the most obvious meaning, as it is the prudence of the steward that the master commended. In this case, Jesus’ message for His followers is similar to His invitation in Mat. 10-:16, “be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves”. The followers of Jesus are requested to stay prudent, shrewd, and agile in action and competition, without having to be cunning. Jesus’ disciples should remain sincere, true, and authentic. Anyhow, being sincere does not mean being naive and submissive to falsity and deceit.

The second message is related to the background of Jesus’ time. It is said that the steward instantly eliminates the excess of the debt which actually belongs to him. He has used his master’s money to lend to some people at higher interest. This is the “commission” that he eliminates in the new promissory note. By doing this, he is showing his mercy to the debtors. This mercy shall be repaid when he is fired. Jesus’ message is clear: “make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth” (v. 9). Wealth should be used to create relationships with others and get more friends.

Another opinion says the steward did reduce the debt to his master. For what? To get the master’s praise. A rich man who is incapable of handling his wealth will lose his honor from society. In a culture that upholds the principle of “honor and shame”, the steward has restored the master’s honor by cutting off the debt. His action is detrimental economically, but it gains his master’s dignity in society. Therefore, the steward is praised by his master. So the third message is clear: as long as we live in this world, wealth should be set out to restore and promote human dignity and the glory of God. Why? For after we die, the dishonest wealth is of “no more help” (v. 9). Nevertheless, you and I will surely be welcomed by the Father and the friends who have gone before us in the “eternal dwelling”.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of the Indonesian Church this month:

For the purpose of Universal Churches: Death sentence abolishment
We pray that the death sentence against human’s dignity could be officially abolished in all countries.

For the purpose of Indonesian Churches intention: Avoid the dependence on gadgets
We pray so that we can consciously avoid excessive dependence on gadgets.

Amen

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