(25thOrdinary Sunday: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13)
The dishonest steward of today’s parable was a clever man. Faced with an audit, and in danger of losing everything, he compounded his crimes and acted boldly to ensure his future. Even the master whom he was cheating had to give him credit for his foresightedness.
The steward embezzled his employer’s property to save himself. Jesus applies this in a curious way to his disciples: “I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
While the first reading and the Gospel focus on money, St. Paul writes: “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as ransom for all.” Here all the readings converge.
A ransom is the price paid to secure the release of captives. In our case, however, no money exchanged hands. In 1 Peter 1:18-19, we read: “You were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.”
Twice in the Gospel text, money is described as dishonest, and Jesus states emphatically that we cannot serve it and God at the same time.
At La Salette, Mary did not mention money, but she spoke a lot about the local economy, which was, quite naturally, an ongoing concern of the people of the area; in 1846, it was rapidly becoming an obsession. If the crops continued to fail, disaster was inevitable.
The Beautiful Lady acknowledged that reality. Referring to the potatoes, she said, “By Christmas this year, there will be none left.”
Besides sympathizing with her people’s plight, however, she had something to teach them. Not being able to serve two masters, they had made the wrong choice. Their devotion to the hope of prosperity for its own sake had left them, literally, unsatisfied. Mary speaks clearly: abundance is possible, “if they are converted.”
In other words, we need to recognize that we have been ransomed, and at what a price! This shows us just how precious we are in God’s sight.