Jesus said to his disciples: ‘The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?
‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’Lk 16:10-13
Jesus’ words are very confronting to us in a materialistic, affluent Western culture: “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.” How very easily we can be seduced and enslaved by money or by ‘the love of money’ or by the power and status that money brings.
Jesus tells us: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” We are called to that conversion of heart where our relationship with God is what matters most deeply. Jesus indicates that this is incompatible with being enslaved and preoccupied by money and wealth.
Whatever wealth, possessions and attributes we have are ultimately gifts from God and we are challenged to use them according to God’s will.
St Basil (d.379AD) challenges us: “When someone steals another person’s clothes we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the person who is hungry. The coat hanging unused in your wardrobe belongs to the person who needs it. The shoes rotting in your closet belong to the person who has no shoes. The money which you are hoarding belongs to the poor.”
Luke 16.10-13 follows Jesus’ parable of the steward. This parable reminds us that nothing in this world ultimately belongs to us. All that we enjoy is really gift. Jesus challenges us not to squander the wealth and gifts entrusted to us, but to use them as the Lord would wish. We are each called to live in this world as a pilgrim. St Paul reminds us: “Our homeland is in heaven.”
Jesus insists that those who are a ‘slave to money’ cannot serve God. It is the poor – that is, those who know that they are completely dependent on God – who are truly blessed, not those who are slaves of material wealth.
Director, Mission & Identity