Application of the Parable
Bits & Pieces (July, 1991) said that a British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:
- “One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable.”
- “One who understands our silence.”
- “A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.”
- “A watch that beats true for all time and never runs down.”
- “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.” (This was the winning definition)
Today’s gospel is the continuation of yesterday’s gospel by which Jesus commended the dishonest steward, not because of his dishonesty, but because of his being smart and wise. He was such a clever because he took effective steps to guarantee his future employment by using his master’s wealth. That is why in today’s gospel Jesus exhorts his disciples and us to follow in the footsteps of this dishonest steward who used money generously to make friends for himself. We have to use our wealth for our future eternal life.
Being generous, in the minds of St. Luke, is to make friends with the poor and needy through the use of our wealth. They become our friends because we are merciful and generous to them in their time of need, just as God is merciful to us in our need for His forgiveness and help. These people will be on our side before God’s judgment seat because we had invested our wealth in them. As we read in St. Matthew’s gospel too: “As often as you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me,” (Matt 25:40). In other words again, being generous to other people in need.
But Jesus warns us that it is not all right to be dishonest, unjust and not trustworthy. He reminds us too that it is all right to make money but it is not all right to make dirty money or money out of cheating, dishonesty, violence and fraud.
I don’t’ know if you are familiar with “nakaisa mentality,” by which we are so very happy if “nalamangan, nagulangan, naisahan,” the others. When will we graduate from this ‘naisahan mentality?’ Jesus’ message in today’s gospel is very clear. It is about being honest, being, good, being trustful and being one with our brothers and sisters. What matters most in this life is that of “nakiisa ako” (being one with others) and not “nakaisa ako.”
Jesus also reminds us to make friends with material things, let us remember the fundamental code of friendship, ‘never to abuse a friend.’ If wealth were a friend, it should not be abused. One demonstration of abusing wealth, Fr. Gerry del Pinado, SVD in his homily emphasized, is the corrupt practice of acquiring it to the detriment of others. In this case, we are not a friend but a thief. Abusing wealth is also hoarding too much, no matter how legitimate it is, when others don’t even have an iota of what we have, no matter how they work for it. Let us bear in mind once again that what we have is a blessing and it is given in the spirit of stewardship. We use it not only for ourselves but also for others. Wealth Jesus says: “make friends for yourselves” and “riches are a blessing only to those who make them a blessing to others.” (From Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD, Inquirer Moments Cycle C)
Do we know the joy and freedom of generosity and liberality in giving to others what God has so richly given to us?