📷 Vatican Media

On the Lesson of the Dishonest Steward Commended for His Shrewdness

“In Face of Our Faults and Failings, Jesus Assures Us that We Are Always in Time to Heal with Goodness the Evil Done”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The parable in this Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. Luke 16:1-13) has as its protagonist a cunning and dishonest steward who, accused of having wasted his master’s goods, is about to be dismissed. In this difficult situation, he doesn’t recriminate, he doesn’t seek justifications, nor does he let himself get discouraged, but he thinks of a way out to ensure for himself a tranquil future. At first, he reacts with lucidity, recognizing his own limitations: “I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg (v. 3); then he acts with cunning, stealing from his master for the last time. In fact, he summons the debtors and reduces the debts they have with their master, to make them friends and then be recompensed by them. This is to make friends with corruption and to obtain gratitude with corruption as, unfortunately, is usual today.

Jesus gives this example certainly not to exhort to dishonesty, but to shrewdness. In fact, He stresses: “The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness” (v. 8), namely, with that mixture of intelligence and cunning that enables one to surmount difficult situations. The key to the reading of this account lies in Jesus’ invitation at the end of the parable: “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal habitations” (v. 9). This seems a bit confusing, but it isn’t: “unrighteous mammon” is money — also called the devil’s dung — and material goods in general.

Wealth can push one to erect walls, to create divisions and discriminations. Jesus, on the contrary, invites His disciples to reverse the course: “Make friends with wealth.” It’s an invitation to be able to transform goods and riches into relationships, because people are worth more than things and count more than the riches possessed. In life, in fact, he who has many riches doesn’t bear fruit, but he who creates and keeps alive many bonds, many relationships, many friendships through the diverse “riches,” namely, the different gifts with which God has endowed him. But Jesus also points out the ultimate end of His exhortation: “Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal habitations.” We will be received in Paradise, if we are capable of transforming riches into instruments of fraternity and solidarity, not only by God but also by those with whom we shared, administering well what the Lord has put in our hands.

Brothers and sisters, this evangelical page makes the question of the dishonest steward, dismissed by his master, resound in us: What shall I do now?” (v. 3) In face of our faults and failings, Jesus assures us that we are always in time to heal with goodness the evil done. One who has caused tears must render another happy, one who has embezzled, must give to one in need. By doing so, the Lord will praise us, “because we will have acted shrewdly,” namely, with the wisdom of one who recognizes himself a child of God and gets involved for the Kingdom of Heaven.

May the Holy Virgin help us to be shrewd in ensuring for ourselves, not worldly success, but eternal life, so that at the time of the Last Judgment, the needy people we helped can witness that in them we saw and served the Lord.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you all affectionately, Romans and pilgrims from different countries. In particular, I greet the participants in the Via Pacis, running race that this morning went through the streets of Rome, to bring a message of peace, of fraternity and especially of dialogue between different cultures and religions.

I greet the group of the Polish Catholic Mission in Germany; the “Saint Leonard” Choir of Procida; the young Confirmation candidates of Settimello (Florence); and the Sisters of Beautiful Love, observing the 25th anniversary of their foundation

Observed next Sunday, September 29 will be the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. I will celebrate Mass for the occasion here in St. Peter’s Square. I invite you to take part in this celebration to express, also with prayer, our closeness to migrants and refugees of the whole world.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Enjoy your lunch and goodbye!

        ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester