Lk 16: 1-13

Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’

Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.

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. “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Whom, or what, do I serve?

As with a few Gospel parables, it is easy with the Parable of the Dishonest Steward to get bogged down in the rhetorical details of what is probably a translation to English, from Latin, of a translation to Greek from the original oral Aramaic.  If the parable lacks for us the immediacy that it did for Jesus’s contemporaries, at least its final charge is still readily available: “You cannot serve God and wealth.” That is the final, and key, line of the parable. God alone is Lord; all else is subsidiary and not worth our worship.  Perhaps the most important thing about our possessions in these times is how very useful an indicator they are for us as we discern our overall fundamental disposition: towards God or towards the created things of this world. Whom, or what, do I serve?

—Fr. Greg Ostdiek, SJ, is a Jesuit priest of the Midwest Province.  Ordained this past June, he is spending his first year after ordination studying education at Harvard.


Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord,
choose this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River
or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living;
but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

—Joshua 24:15