Planning for the Future
He also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was [a]wasting his goods. 2 So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
3 “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’
5 “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 And he said, ‘A hundred [b]measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred [c]measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
9 “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous [d]mammon, that when [e]you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. 10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?
13 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:1-13)
For many years this was THE most confusing passage of Scripture for me.
It really sounds like Jesus is praising the dishonest steward and it's hard to imagine why.
The thing of it is, at that time stewards who lent their masters' money would overcharge on the interest, taking a percentage for themselves.
What this dishonest steward did was to sacrifice his personal cut and have people pay back more quickly what they ACTUALLY owed the master.
This is why he was praised. But the example he gives us goes much deeper.
Jesus said, "The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light."
In other words, secular people are smarter at dealing with the world than we religious people are at dealing with God.
Like this steward, they come up with elaborate plans for ensuring their own physical comfort and security and they execute them successfully.
But what do we "religious" people do? Do we use our intellect to come up with a plan for how we are going to grow closer to God? Or do we drift along thinking it will simply happen by osmosis?
I'm not asking for a show of hands, but how many of us have a financial adviser, a retirement plan, and investments in the stock market?
Planning for the future is not a bad thing, but on the other hand, how many of us have a spiritual advisor, a plan for how to get to heaven, and investment of our time in God Himself?
I'm sorry to say that one hour a week on Sunday morning is necessary but not sufficient for growth in the spiritual life.
Like that dishonest steward, what is our plan going to be to make sure that at the end of our service God will welcome us into heaven?
First, we need to pray. Not just on Sunday or before meals but through the entirety of each and every day. While we're driving, while we're cooking, while we're working are all times we can also be talking to God.
But in addition to that each of us needs a dedicated prayer time each day when we do nothing else but talk to God and listen in silence for His response.
Second, we need to read. Hearing the Scriptures read at Mass is good but that can't be the sum total of our interaction with the Word of God. We need to read the Bible or the writings of the saints a little bit each day. Even one paragraph is sufficient to meditate on.
Finally, and most importantly, we need to make the best use possible of the sacraments the Church offers us. There are only two sacraments we may receive on a regular basis, and those are the Most Holy Eucharist and Confession.
Most Catholics realize their need for and have a desire to receive the Eucharist. In fact, many people receive the Eucharist even when they are in a state of mortal sin and ought to refrain.
But what kind of use do we make of Confession, the other sacrament we must regularly receive?
Every time we confess our sins we receive grace and strength to avoid those sins in the future. Confession is there not to pile up more obligations on us but to help us be free of what weighs us down.
The children of this world have a plan. They know what kind of earthly success they want and they know how to achieve it.
Let's not be outdone by them. The prize we are after is eternal, and requires at least as much time and planning as we give to worldly pursuits.
If we are smart and use our spiritual resources well like that dishonest steward we will have every hope of being welcomed into the eternal dwelling place of God.