September 22/23, 2007
The Wicked/Dishonest Manager or Security and Trustworthiness in Managering Our Talents
My theme this weekend is The Wicked Manager or Security and Trustworthiness in managing our talents. No one gives us better example than St. Paul. Writing to Timothy 2:7, Paul states, I am telling the truth; I am not lying. I an just wondering how many of us would be as bold to speak or manage the talents God has given us as Paul tells us to review how we have been managing all the talents God has given us. How many of us can boldly say, I am not lying, but telling the truth about how best we manage Gods affairs; that we are not lying when we tell others that we believe in God.
Our world today forces us to see success in business or achievements as absolute ownership; it forces us to desire for more, regardless of the rights and needs of others including the plight of the poor and the weak, the marginalized and the vulnerable. In this instance, the Prophet Amos warns us never to distance ourselves from the plight of the weak, the vulnerable, the wounded, the divorced, those who suffer silently from all kinds of ailments. The world tells us to find security and trustworthiness in success and achievement, wealth, position, status etc. We now have the tendency to work harder for earthly rewards that last a few years than for heavenly rewards that last forever. Yet, we do know that our true security or trustworthiness is found in God alone!
In the first reading, the prophet Amos [of Tekoa, 750 B.C.E.] draws our attention to the importance of Social Justice, the prevalence of social injustices, the disrespect for the rights and needs of others, the degradation of equality and dignity of each human person etc. The prophet cautions us to uphold the ultimate value of our neighbours against those flimsy values that commercial and media impose upon us. In fact, Amos sounds a warning gong that if we cheat the needy, the poor, the weak, the marginalized, the vulnerable etc in anyway; if we become indifferent to their difficult situations, we bring upon ourselves the judgement of the Lord.
Referring to the wisdom of Amos in the first reading, Jesus applies the story of the dishonest manager to denounce any form of dishonesty with our talents. Like Amos, Jesus is warning us that any mismanagement of our talents may endanger our genuine search for that eternity with God as well as improving the living condition of our neighbours.
The parable of the wicked manager challenges us to act as boldly as we should when we are confronted with issues about God and morality. It challenges us not to be lukewarm in our fidelity to God; it challenges us not to be lukewarm in our responsibility to the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, and the marginalized; it challenges us not to be lukewarm in sharing the riches of the earth with all. After all, all that we possess is but on loan from God. Upon this belief, we are not to serve wealth and fame but rather serve God and our neighbour in good conscience.
live in an age of government cutbacks and corporate downsizing, [e.g.
the merging of major banks, the effects of IMF and the World Bank on developing
countries, and the treatment of the powerful over the weak]. All of this
translates into tougher times for the poor and the weak in societies.
The United Nations (UN) reports that developing countries paid $200 billion
US dollars to service their loans to developed nations. Some argue the
debt has been paid over and over again and should be cancelled; others
argue the debt should stay because the developing nations are lazy. We
forget all our fruits etc come from them and that we live off the vulnerability
of the poor, or that if the 200Billion US dollars stayed with them, they
too could build better schools and better educations systems, free education
to Grade 12 as we have here; that they too could create better infrastructures
for their people.
Let us recall that Christ himself shared his very self with the poor among humanity, which includes you and me. How can we therefore say we believe in God if we refuse to sacrifice anything for him or our neighbour? Our sacrifice is to open our ears to the gospel even when we would rather not listen to it, because it challenges our conscience. Our sacrifice is to open our minds to the gospel even when we would rather not think about it, because it disturbs us more than we want to be disturbed. Our sacrifice is that we put the gospel message into practice even when we would rather not act on it, because it means changing the life style, we would rather not change.
Take as example how athletes, boxers, tennis, hockey, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and soccer players sacrifice and discipline themselves just to win worldly rewards or awards that are perishable. Muslims sacrifice anything for the spread of Islam. Those who cheat and steal arm themselves, and even terrorists do whatever it takes to gain attention [Terrorists attack on the World Trade Centre, New York, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan etc]. What are we doing to make the gospel message attractive? What are we doing to make the world realize that security is in God alone and not in our own might including finding security in the wealth [riches, talents etc] that we have accumulated or military might?
In essence, the message
of the wicked manager is that goodness, kindness and gentleness towards
others bring us security in God, not might or the wealth we have accumulated.
We know that no amount of can buy happiness, love, respect etc. We know
all too well that things dont make us happy; people do! We earn
respect. We work hard to earn the love and respect of our loved ones
spouse, parents, children, siblings, boy friend or girl friend, co-workers,
employers etc. But concretely, it is only by possessing God and being
possessed by God that we find true inner happiness.
So what does the parable of the wicked manager mean to you? I would tell you mind and hopefully you can come up with something of your own. For me, todays gospel message is:
That we bring peace
to those who are disturbed cheated, hurt, wounded or broken.
Father John-Baptist Okai