05 November 2010

On being honest stewards

31st Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Few of us are surprised when we hear that wealthy, powerful people often abuse their power and wealth. In fact, many of us expect money and influence to be corrupting. When the overriding goal of one's life is material gain and personal glory, it follows that the means of achieving these goals will often make use of less than reputable methods. And why not? If there is little chance of being punished in this world for taking a darker route, and you aren't really all that worried about what happens after you depart this world, then getting what you can now—by any means necessary—seems not only desirable but prudent as well. Why hesitate to take what I want when the consequences of doing so aren't all that bad? Obviously, this is not an attitude that Christians can adopt with impunity! Our goals as followers of Christ do not include material gain and personal glory. Nor do we subscribe to the notion that every means available justifies any possible end. All of this may be obvious as it is, but is it obvious why we cannot live this way? Beyond our sure belief that taking what we want when we want it is a slippery slide into hell, do we as Christians understand our relationship to this world, and why we cannot serve God as dishonest stewards?

Christians are presented daily with a difficult problem: we must live as embodied souls in the world, but we cannot see ourselves as beings created by the world. We have to work, pay bills, do laundry, cook, clean, go to the doctor—just like everyone else. We have to get up in the morning, go to bed at night, and live day to day with others, all of whom are doing exactly the same sorts of things we are. The temptation to assimilate, to lose ourselves in the push and pull of just getting by is tremendous. The temptation to accumulate stuff and seek after personal glory is no less compelling. But “just getting by” is not the work we have been given to do. Nor have we been charged with storing up gold and influence. 

Being in the world but not of it means that our sights are firmly set on traveling through this world to the Father's kingdom beyond. Is this travel plan enough to make us into honest stewards? No, it isn't. Though we travel through the world to the kingdom, resisting as we go the temptations of wealth and glory, we do ourselves great damage if we ignore this fundamental truth: the world belongs to God. We are His stewards. Whatever wealth we possess, whatever talents we exercise, whatever time we spend, all are given to us to use in His service for His glory. Good, honest stewards use what they have been given to increase the wealth and glory of their Master. Being in the world means that we use what we have been given to bring creation as close to His perfection as we can. However, not being of the world means that we know our only hope of perfection lies outside the world we live in. The dishonest steward steals from both the world and his master for personal gain. The honest steward uses his master's wealth wisely and benefits both his master and the world. 

As children of the light our work is funded by the inexhaustible treasury of the Father's mercy and love. Our citizenship is in heaven, and we have been given all of God's creation to spend for His glory. If we choose to spend His wealth for our own satisfaction, then we join the ranks of stewards who find themselves out of work. However, if we do the job we have been given to do, our reward comes now and forever.

Follow HancAquam ------------>


  1. Fr. Philip, maybe you can help me understand something about this gospel reading: why does the master commend the dishonest steward? I know he does it because the steward acted prudently, but the steward wasn't doing the master any favors-- quite the contrary. Is it because they are both "children of this world?"

  2. Jasmine, this is one of the most obscure parables Jesus uses. It's generally thought that the steward is discounting the debt in an amount equal to his commission. So, the master is not harmed and his own rep is salvaged. . .

  3. I found this very heartening today: "Our sights are firmly set on traveling through this world to the Father's kingdom beyond. [...] As children of the light our work is funded by the inexhaustible treasury of the Father's mercy and love." I hope all is well, <3 , aspiring f.o.o.L.

  4. Thank you, Father! That explanation does make a lot of sense.

  5. Sadly, lies have been told by far to many for far to long ;-(

    The brethren of The Messiah are but "aliens and pilgrims while the earth" for their "citizenship is in Heaven"!

    So it is that they are exhorted to:

    “Love Not The World”

    ”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”.......(I John 5:19)

    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

    “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

    “Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

    “The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

    The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

    John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James4:4)

    "Come Out of her, MY people"!

    Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” all of which fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-(

    "Come out from among them and be separate"!

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it's systems of religion, for "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one" indeed and Truth......

    Truth IS, a lie never was and is not.......

    Abide in Truth....... francis