God or Money?
25th Sunday of the Year (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Everything passes. Nothing really lasts. Things and times change. Things eventually wear out and no longer serve their purpose. We cannot even hold on to a joyful or ecstatic moment. It soon passes. We may try to hold on to people. They eventually pass away or we pass away.

Action starter: What is more important to you, God or money?

The same holds true for wealth. The story is told of the great Greek lawmaker Solon to whom the then richest man Croesus was displaying his wealth. Solon observed philosophically that wealth only brings grief. We may lose our wealth when we are alive and it brings us grief or we may leave our wealth behind when we die and the thought also brings us grief. Life on earth is temporary.

If temporariness is a characteristic of human life, what then should be our attitude to earthly existence? One attitude is that of the pleasure-seeker, “Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Another attitude is that of heroism in the face of absurdity, that of the existentialist, “Life ends, there is no after-life, but act responsibly and nobly anyway.” A more recent perspective, that of the ecologist goes, “Act to preserve the planet and all its life-forms.” We pass away but the planet continues. This is related to the naturalist thinking that we leave this earth as if we have not been here, like footprints on the sand that the tide soon washes away.

In the Gospel this Sunday, the Lord Jesus gives us some perspectives regarding our relationship with this world and the things therein, particularly wealth, temporary as they are. In the parable of the shrewd manager, the Lord was making the point that people are shrewd when it comes to managing their earthly affairs. Shouldn’t people give more thought to managing their relationship with God? “And I tell you, make friends for yourself by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations,” (Lk. 16:9). Simply said, this means that we have to use wealth to attain heaven, not to go to hell.

Another saying of the Lord shows the continuity between this earthly existence and the heavenly one. This earthly life is “little” compared to eternal life with God which is “much”. From this perspective, the Lord’s saying makes more sense, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much” (Lk. 16:10). Acting responsibly and faithfully (to God’s will) in this life is a preparation for eternal life. Again this brings us to the point of making use of our earthly resources properly.

A third saying of the Lord is a challenge, “No man can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and money.” We have to have our priorities right. Making money takes second place to pleasing God. If the means by which we acquire wealth is displeasing to God, then we are making money more important than God. We have to acquire wealth through moral and legal means, not through cheating or oppressing others. In the first reading, the prophet Amos condemns the various methods of cheating employed by some dealers of his time, such as faulty scales, manipulation of prices, and mixing chaff with the wheat (Amos 8:4-7). Sounds familiar? They were using shrewd business practices to “trample upon the needy, and bring the poor of the land to an end.”

This Sunday’s readings therefore speak of our being good stewards. Life on this earth is temporary, but as long as we are here, let our actions serve the Kingdom.