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BulletinsGospel Reflections

Sep 18th, 2022 Bulletin & News

By September 14, 2022September 17th, 2022No Comments

“Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth.”

“Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth.” What does this mean? Most of Jesus’ parables are short and straightforward stories, but Luke 16:1-13 involves a lot about life in the ancient world.

In an economy where money was less widely used, households were like small businesses that produced their own goods. A household included a family, but also their workers and servants and other dependents and could be very large. A wealthy household had land where products such as wheat, olives, sheep, and flax were grown, and a household could either process these into flour, oil, wool, and linen itself or contract with a specialist such as a miller or olive presser. If this was the case, the miller or weaver would keep a small percentage of the product for his labor and the use of his tools. These commodities were often also used to pay rent and debts or borrowed if someone was running short of food before harvest time.

If you’ve ever struggled to balance a checkbook, you can imagine that running such an enterprise and keeping track of everything was quite a task. A large household would have a steward who kept track of everything that was produced, processed, stored, owed, and loaned by the household. He was a manager who took care of running the household business for the owners. This was an important position, especially in a large estate, and in a culture where ‘taking a cut’ was often seen as part of being in a position of authority, it was probably not uncommon for a steward to demand a little extra from his master’s debtors in order to line his own pockets. While ‘taking a cut’ may have been allowed, squandering the property of your own master was a different matter altogether. Stewards were expected to be responsible for their masters’ wealth as though it were their own, and in a sense, it was because their livelihood depended on their masters’.

In Jesus’ parable, the steward is going to be dismissed because of mishandling his master’s wealth. Stewards didn’t come and go the way that corporate employees do today – members of a household including servants and workers were there for life unless the household’s business failed, or they committed an egregious infraction. A dismissed steward would be disgraced and have nowhere to go for a new job. By forgiving 20-50% of the debtors’ accounts, he wasn’t giving away what was owed to his master but rather using what he had gained over the years to try to make friends using dishonest wealth – doing favors for men as rich as his master to get into their good graces.

In the parable, the master commended him for acting prudently – using the wealth that he had accumulated dishonestly to secure a welcome for himself on other estates. Jesus says, “Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” In other words, if you have any ill-gotten or even questionably gotten possessions, don’t hold onto them! Give them away in order to secure a welcome in heaven. This touches on the Church’s teaching about restitution – the return of things stolen or misappropriated. Repenting for a sin such as this isn’t complete until the goods or money are returned or given to the poor, and by doing so, one can secure a welcome into eternal dwellings.

-Fr. Nate

Installation of a Pastor

There may be more than one priest assigned to a parish, but there is only one pastor. He is the priest who leads and directs a particular parish. While part of his role is administration of the parish, he is more importantly the father who is responsible for the care of all the faithful assigned to his parish by geography or pastoral need.

While today we mostly use this word about kitchen appliances or computer software, the word “install” means “to put in place,” and it is used because a pastor does not take charge of a parish by his own prerogative or by a popular vote. Rather, he is “put in place” by the authority of the Church herself. A pastor receives an appointment to his office, and installation is the ceremony that corresponds to this appointment that places the parish in his care.

Pastors are installed by the bishop of the diocese, who, as a successor of the Apostles, has the principal responsibility for the spiritual and temporal needs of the local Church. The bishop is the representative of Christ in the diocese, and a particular Church (i.e., diocese) only exists in relation to her bishop. He selects priests suitable to cooperate with his mission in the Church and entrusts the parishes of his diocese to their care.

Ever since the beginning of salvation history, God has chosen individuals to act as mediators of his covenant love. This designation allows certainty about whom to follow and to trust as leaders, prophets, counselors, reconcilers, and intercessors with God. Jesus Christ himself is our Mediator in the New Covenant, and he extends his mediation through the ministry of priests. The office of pastor is an expression of the headship of Christ, our Good Shepherd, and the loving care that he has for his people.

San Pedro Comms

Author San Pedro Comms

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