Holy Spirit Province Saint-Esprit
Franciscans of CanadaFranciscains du Canada

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

Luke 16, 1-13

LIFE PROVIDES US WITH MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO VERIFY OUR LEVEL OF HONESTY… 

Say you’re working at a Dry Cleaners, and you find a $100 bill in the pocket of a pair of pants you have been given to clean… and no one is around to see you… What do you do?

Luke 16, 1-13

Do you take the money – discretely, making sure no one around sees you – and simply do not tell anyone… after all, you found it… or do you return it to the owner when he comes to pick up the pants?  Life gives us many opportunities to make these kinds of choices… do we cheat a little – or sometimes a lot – to advantage ourselves… or do we give back what doesn’t belong to us, do we do right, do we seek justice?

But giving back what doesn’t belong to us is not the only form of honesty… sometimes, things are a little more subtle… The Gospel encourages us to be all at once wise and generous in our dealings with our fellow men. 

The message we read in Luke 16, 1-13 is surprising! The lesson it teaches us is that God wants us to distribute his riches freely, without worrying about the rules and regulations that have been set by men.

The manager, in this parable, reduces the debt owed to his Master, in order to make friends… so that «people may welcome me into their homes» says the text… This man is not being ‘HONEST’ according to the rules of our world, however he is being merciful, he is being generous with the wealth of his master… with the wealth of GOD… and this is what God likes.  Yes, the text says that the Master congratulates the manager because he acted shrewdly, wisely, generously!

Interesting!  The master is saying to the manager: «You had two choices… You could have chosen to be rigorous and tough with my wealth, but you decided to be generous – you decided not to opt for the logic of money and profit, but for the generous logic of mercy and hospitality – and you made the right choice.

Now, here the metaphor is clear… The Master is GOD, and the wealth of GOD is love, it is forgiveness, it is the ability to be generous.  The Master – God – is saying:  you have been a good manager!  Instead of being a stingy, hard, severe steward, you put the dignity of human beings… you put friendship… you put mercy and forgiveness… above business and profit.  The text of the Gospel says to us today:  «Give priority to human beings over the accumulation of wealth, so that when wealth is gone, you will have the treasure of friendship, the riches of the heart, to welcome you into fullness of life.»  And this is a beautiful message!

God will judge us on our stewardship of the world around us. How have we administered justice? Have we been fair? Have we loved others with true charity? Have we used the occasions and opportunities life presents us to do good, to alleviate suffering, to help others in need? Have we seen the poor victim on the side of the road and acted as the Good Samaritan or simply passed by on the other side? Have we served the Lazarus’ who begged at our door?

The Gospels tell us how God sees the world… And God’s vision is often different from our very limited and sometimes shallow views. We must keep in mind we are mere stewards here and not the masters of this world. When God tells us to be generous and forgiving… we should listen!

Who are we to be stingy with God’s love, with God’s charity, with God’s forgiveness, when all has been given to us?  In fact, is there one single thing that we have earned on our own?  Everything we have is given to us in this life… and life is short… quickly, all can be taken away.

In the Fall, the French pastor of our Church – of the St-Roch parish, Father Louis Robert s.j., who occasionally replaced Fr. Morin for the English Eucharist – had a seizure, fell on the street, and passed away two days later. He died suddently, and this was a shock for everyone! But the beautiful thing is that Father Robert was always in the mode of giving!  He was always serving and distributing the mercy and love of God. No slave can serve two masters says Luke 16, 1-13. You cannot serve God and wealth.  Father Robert had a clear choice for God, and he has been welcomed into his Kingdom!

Br. Pierre Charland ofm