Saturday Week 31 Year II

Readings: Philippians 4:10-19; Luke 16:9-15

Money continues to be in the spotlight today and it’s interesting how Jesus both praises and condemns it in the same breath.

He calls it tainted, little, even loathsome and yet, precisely because it is so unimportant it assumes importance. How we handle the small stuff reveals our hearts better than our big-banner projects or the public values we claim. Money, because it means so little says so much: it speaks of what we worship truly rather than who we say we do.

Isn’t this an interesting thing to hear from Jesus’ mouth: ‘Use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when money fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity’. No one bribes their way through the Pearly Gates. Heaven’s honours can’t be bought—not even with a backdoor loan. What Jesus seems to be saying is that what opens the gates to us is not what we have but who we know, who our real friends are, where we have given our love, our time and treasure.

That’s the only investment that pays off in the long term: the friends we have made, the generosity we have shown, the love we have spent.

12 replies on “Saturday Week 31 Year II”

  1. We’ve just finished reading through the Gospel of Luke together in my church. When I came to this passage, with the Parable of the Dishonest Steward that comes just before it, I was pretty flummoxed… It struck me that I’d never heard the story before, and I’d never heard anyone say anything about it either. Jesus seems to praise financial dishonesty in one breath, and then condemn it in the next!

    I asked my minister, and he thinks that Luke probably didn’t know what to make of the story either, but he thought it was important for us to know that Jesus told the story, so we ought to try and take it on board. He thinks that the bit about being honest with your money might have been written by someone who was a bit embarassed by the original story, and was trying to add in a kind of “but I’m sure what Jesus really meant to say was…” section.

    All a bit confusing really!

  2. I must admit I like the confusion. I get suspicious when everything fits together neatly. And, besides, it gives us plenty of scope to make something out of it.

    Do you know anybody who is completely, transparently understandable and clear? Anyone without residue of mystery, complexity, contradiction? Why should we expect Jesus to be any different? Why should we want it?

  3. I wonder did Jesus always understand what he meant. Surely, like all of us he was sometimes working things out as he said them. We like to know exactly what’s what but the invitation is surely to ponder his teachings and realise what they say to ME. Absolute certainty is neither possible not desirable.

  4. I must say that Jesus is never more confusing to me than in this particular passage. I expect his teaching to be difficult, but I guess being told that “use dodgy money to buy yourself some friends” is just plain weird!

    I suppose there is a message of “be wise as serpents, innocent as doves” in there somethere, though…

  5. I’m drawn back to my homily … maybe Jesus is asking us to put our money where our mouths are. I don’t hear a strong note of compromise in him. Money is a ‘tainted thing’ but better than anything it reveals our hearts. Who do we belong to?

  6. If money is really the ability to get what you want, then how you use that ability would say something about you. So money would be indifferent and intent would matter? But still, buying influence seems wrong.

  7. I think that the remarks St. Paul makes in the reading for the same day resonate here. I think it’s not about money and its capacity to buy but about two different economies and where they interesct and what they reveal.

  8. I was just thinking that perhaps this applies to lay evangelists who suddenly begin to make their living by evangelizing for pay, either in speaking to crowds in auditoriums ($800-1200 per session) or aboard luxury cruises.. a phenomenon here in America that is so embarrassing.

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