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Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year, (C) (18th September, 2016) on the Gospel

Amos 8:4-7;
Ps 112:1-2.4-8. (R. cf. vv. 1.7);
1Tim 2:1-8;
Lk 16:1-13 or Lk 16:10-13.
Dr Mini Silbert, criminologist and psychologist, helped found the successful Delancy Street Foundation for ex-convicts.... The late Dr Karl Menninger described it as “the best and most successful rehabilitation programme I have studied in the world”. Every participant leaves with a high school equivalency diploma and learns three skills which prepare them for the work force. Dr Silbert began by renting a home and volunteering the residents for any physical work the neighbours might need.
Today these ex-cons operate a moving company, a fine restaurant, and a retail complex. All this is done without grants or professional staff. The programme is strictly a self-help venture with each participant involved both as a student and a teacher. This pooling of skills and resources has helped graduate thousands of men and women into society “as taxpaying citizens leading successful lives”.[1]
Topic: Mere manager.
Today’s gospel pericope has been described as a difficult one to digest.[2][3] The main reasons are in verse 8 where it seemed the dishonest steward was praised and verse 9 looks like an injunction for us to do likewise.
Verse one tells us that a rich man got reports of how his manager was squandering his property. In verse two, he fired the manager and called him to give account of his stewardship.
The book of Deuteronomy reads, “Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it” (Deut 10:14). And the Psalmist also writes, “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for to thee belong all the nations!” (Ps 82:8). Saint Paul also writes, “... all things are from God” (1Cor 11:12). In the light of these passages and many more, that rich man in the parable is God.
Could it be that God gets “reports” of all we do, say, think, and fail to do? In the book of Genesis, the Lord queried Cain, “What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Gen 4:10). Again God said,
If you take your neighbour’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; for it may be your neighbour’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbour cries out to me, I will listen... (Ex 22:26-27).
Both the cries of sorrows and joys of the oppressed, neglected, loved, and so on reach God. They talk to God about all we do to and with them.
According to Longman dictionary of contemporary English, to Squander is “to carelessly waste money, time, opportunities, etc”. Although what God has entrusted to each and every one of us differs, yet they are all special and are all from him, cf. 1Cor 7:7. And we are to account for all these.
 According to Barclay (p.209) “The Rabbis had a saying, ‘The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come’. Ambrose … said, ‘The bosoms of the poor, the houses of widows, the mouths of children are the barns which last forever.’... A man’s true wealth would consist not in what he kept, but in what he gave away.” Saint Ambrose also wrote: “We should not consider riches,” Armellini quotes, “what we cannot take with us. What we must leave behind in this world is not ours, it belongs to others.”[4]
It is important to note that “Possessions are not in themselves a sin, but they are a great responsibility, and the man who uses them to help his friends has gone far to discharge that responsibility”.[5] Barclay writes further,
Upon earth you are in charge of things which are not really yours. You cannot take them with you when you die. They are only lent to you. You are only a steward over them. They cannot, in the nature of things, be permanently yours. On the other hand, in heaven you will get what is really and eternally yours (p. 209).
In line with these, Armellini judged verse 9 (And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes) as the most important verse in today’s gospel. Just as the manager was called up to give account, each of us must one day be called up to give account. Hence, Saint Paul writes, “So each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12). And for Job, we shall account for all our steps, cf. Job 31:37. Dr Mini Silbert did all we saw in the introduction without grants or professional staff. You can even do much more. Do not harden your heart, cf. Ps 95:7-8.
Bible Reading: Ps 104; Rom 14:1-12; Matt 7:1-5; Mk 4:21-25.
Thought for today: Consider your brand of manager.
Let us pray:             Lord, help us through your Holy Spirit to be the kind of manager that will be given what will be really ours in your eternal kingdom – Amen.

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[1] Fuller, G., (2010). Stories for all seasons. Mumbai: ST PAULS, p. 139.
[2] Barclay, W., (2006). The daily study bible, the gospel of Luke, IV. Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, p.207.
[3] Zanchettin, L., (gen. ed.) (2010). Luke a devotional commentary. Mumbai: St Pauls, p. 168.
[4] Armellini, F., (2007). Celebrating the word, Year C. Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, p. 223.
[5] Barclay, W., (2006). The daily study bible, the gospel of Luke, IV., p. 209.

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