Have an Undivided Heart
User’s Guide to Sunday, Sept. 18
Sunday, Sept. 18, is the 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13 or Luke 16:10-13. In today’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus gives a penetrating analysis of the state of the sinner and some very sobering advice to us would-be saints.
Delusion, Dissipation, Death
We look first to the description of a sinner.
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward …” Notice that he is referred to as a steward rather than an owner. God is the owner of everything; we are but stewards. A steward must deal with the goods of another according to the will of the other. Before God, we own nothing. Part of the essence of sin is behaving as though we were the owner.
“… who was reported to him for squandering his property.” We, too, can waste the gifts we have received or use them for sinful ends. For example, in greed, we hoard the gifts that he gave us for the purpose of helping others. In gossip, lying and cursing, we misuse the gift of speech; in laziness, we misuse the gift of time; in all sin, we abuse and squander the gift of our freedom. This is dissipation, the squandering of God’s goods.
“He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’” Someday our stewardship will end, and we will all be called to account.
Principles of Saints-to-Be
After analyzing the sinner, the Lord has some principle for those of us who want to be saints: intensity, investment, increase and indivisibility.
The text says that the steward called in his master’s debtors one by one and cut their debt to the master in various proportions.
And, strangely, the master commended that dishonest steward for acting shrewdly! In earning money and holding down a job, many display great discipline: getting up early to go to work and going the extra mile to please the boss. They will expend effort to please the boss, to please man, but not to please God.
The spiritually minded ought to show the same intensity, organization, dedication and craftiness that the worldly show in their pursuits.
Jesus says, “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” The Lord tells of how the dishonest steward made use of the money at his disposal to make friends who would help him in the next stage of his life. How about us? Are we willing to use our money and resources to bless and make friends of others (especially the poor, who can bless us in the next stage of our life)? On the day of your judgment, will the poor and needy be able to speak up on your behalf?
The Lord says that the person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.
The small matter is money. You want more? Then use well what you’ve already received.
Jesus says, “No servant can serve two masters. ... You cannot serve God and mammon.” Most people obey money and affluence; they worship a high standard of living before they obey God. They meet their worldly obligations first and then give God what is left over.
But we are called to have an undivided heart. You cannot obey the world (money) and think you’re also going to obey God.