Saturday, September 22, 2007

25th Sunday Ordinary Time

25th Sunday Ordinary Time
September 23, 2007

Amos 8:4-7
1 Tim 2:1-8
Luke 16:1-13

Have you ever noticed how much the gospels teach about money and possessions? If you read with this in mind you will see that a large percentage of Jesus teaching connects in one way or another to money and possessions. It is an interesting study for those who care to take it up.

Let’s get into today’s gospel and see what it teaches us.

First the steward. He was called to account for squandering property. We are not told exactly how. But the end result is that the master’s business is losing money and as a result the steward is about to get fired.

Let me fill in a couple of details stewards and ancient businesses.
these stewards often charged a commission to the customers. This became a profit for the steward.
we know from the story that the customers “owed” something to the master. It is probable that the steward was charging interest on the loans, something which was against the biblical law. This was called “usury” in the old testament.

The steward’s response to the threat of getting fired was this. He called in the customers and apparently eliminated the commission that he charged. Maybe even some of the interest on the loan. The cuts in the promissory notes were up to 50%.

By eliminating his commission he hoped to create gratitude in his customers and thus get welcomed into their homes after he was fired. He also ensured that the debtors would pay their debt to the master more quickly. The parable ends by saying that the master praised the steward for his prudence.

The second section of today’s gospel is this series of sayings.

Jesus talks about a person being judged by his trustworthiness in small matters, or lack thereof.
Then Jesus gives them the zinger at the end. He says - No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate on and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.
Mammon means material wealth or riches. In other words, mammon is your stuff and your money. You can’t be devoted to it and to God at the same time. When all is said and done, you will love one and hate the other.

This parable and these sayings help us understand the attitude that we as Christians should have towards our money and our stuff.

Here it is. Get ready.
It all belongs to God. We are only stewards of these resources.
Period. No ifs ands or buts.

Everything we have. Our houses, our bank accounts, our possessions, our stock portfolios, everything ultimately belongs to God. Everything that we count as a material possession is a gift to us from God.

And it is a gift from God with a purpose.
I will tell you first what the purpose is not.

The purpose is not so that you and I can get rich and satisfied for our own benefit.
God does not give us our time, talents, and treasure purely for ourselves. That’s just selfishness. It is a sin. If we think that we are the sole possessors of our money and our stuff and that’s all we are after, then we are in trouble. Jesus directly implies here that the person who is greedy and selfish actually hates God.

The gift of our time, talent, and treasure. That is our abilities, money, and stuff, is meant to become a blessing from God to us for everybody.
Let me restate that. Your money. Your talents. Your time. Is given to you by God so that you can be blessed by it and use it to bless other people.

God commands this in the bible. The Old Testament commands a tithe – 10% be given back to God. The new testament instructs that Christians give as an exercise in trust and in gratitude. And God promises to bless us even more when we choose to trust by being generous.

God doesn’t need our stuff. God owns it all. But we need to exercise faith filled generosity.

Consider this. If you follow God’s commands when you have small amounts of money and resources, then it is likely that God will bless you with greater and greater amounts. He will do this because he can use you to bless people. Imagine if you had a hundred million dollars. How generous would you be then? How generous are you now in giving back to God?

If we are not faithful in small things, then God cannot use us to be a blessing to others in greater ways. So here’s the question. Will you love God with the money and the stuff entrusted to you today? Will you give and trust God? When you receive more, will you trust God and become more generous?

God intends great things for you. God wants to use you and me to be instruments of his blessing in the world.

Will you love God and trust God with everything that you have and even everything that you are? With your whole self? Will God truly be Lord of your life?

Jesus said. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

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