One of the best ways to enrich your experience at Sunday Mass is to pray the Gospel Reading personally.
A great way of doing this is using the “Lectio Divina”; this is a powerful method which we explain here. The following is the Sunday gospel reading with a reflection that is especially aimed at youth.
We hope that it serves you in your personal prayer and that it serves as a resource that you can share with your apostolate.
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
What am I doing with this life that I hold in my hands? There are seasons in life where this question becomes inevitable. But there are also moments when it is the last thing that we want to hear. Sometimes we choose to slow down a bit and reflect. Other times, however, unexpected crises come knocking on our door, and we find ourselves suddenly and unwillingly in front of that mirror that reveals who we are becoming. Thus is the case of the administrator in today’s Gospel who, perhaps unexpectedly, discovered that he was dishonest.
In the end, this life that we hold in our hands is always a dishonest treasure, because it never belonged to us. We found it. And sometimes we don’t even like it. Sometimes we are like King Midas, like so many kings who are hungry but never manage to eat: everything seems so precious that we never take advantage of it. Life seems so untouchable, so sublime, that we feel unworthy. Other times we are more like geese, stuffing ourselves until we are about to explode. Or like pampered pigs that eat what’s given to them, completely ignorant of their destiny.
When does this life begin to mean anything?
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Luke inserted the parable of the administrator immediately after the parable of the merciful Father. I like to think that this parable is, in reality, the story that the Father tells his sons during the feast that he prepared.
Like us, the two sons were also asking themselves about the meaning of their lives. Initially, they thought that for it to be meaningful they needed to take, to grab, and to gain.
The youngest son took what was waiting for him. Life for him was a right. But life’s meaning was nowhere to be found: sooner or later famine comes and what we thought we had gained no longer feeds us. The older son remains to preside over his riches. He stays close because he is afraid of losing it. He holds on to it and, in doing so, he is consumed. He thought he was in possession of it all, only to discover that he was the one possessed. Neither of them noticed that the father divided to give life: “he divided his living.” His sons didn’t realize it, but the father was teaching them life’s secret. He was giving them their true inheritance: you must divide, not keep it to yourself.
This is why I like to think that the parable of the dishonest administrator is the father’s story for his sons. We don’t know whether the administrator was truly dishonest or not or, in reality, if someone had spread lies about him out of jealousy. Whatever the case, one day he unexpectedly found himself facing – as we all do at some point – the fundamental question: what am I to do with my life?
He reminds us that to turn things around one must also be creative. We can’t do everything. Our possibilities are limited. The administrator teaches us to remain faithful to the basic principle of reality: there are things that I can do and things that I cannot. But I can invent or imagine other scenarios. I can find new paths.
Like the two sons’ father, the administrator also stumbles on life’s secret during a moment of crisis: to discover life’s meaning one must con-done (done = donate). Like the father that divides and donates his livings, the administrator donates even what isn’t his. This is why the two parables go together. It doesn’t matter how we arrive at this conclusion; what’s important is that we will understand only when we start donating and not keeping for ourselves. That’s when life starts to make sense.
The parable of the administrator presents us with a journey that we all must make. A moment comes when we need to account for our lives. There are moments when, by choice or by obligation, we find ourselves asking, “What is the point of it all?” Then, just like the administrator, we must decide what we are going to do. It’s the moment of discernment. It helps us to discover what we are attached to, what we don’t want to let go, as well as what we need to free ourselves from in order to keep living. It’s not by chance that the Gospel text concludes with Jesus’ invitation to choose between two alternatives: God or riches, donate or possess, freedom or attachment.
This is the only way we can make it to the end of our journey, the reason at the heart of everything: our hope to be welcomed home. This isn’t only the administrator’s desire, but everyone’s. It is our deepest desire. Even the two sons, albeit unconsciously, express their desire to be welcomed into their father’s house.
If we ask ourselves what we are doing with our lives, it is because, in the depths of our hearts, we desire to be welcomed home by someone. But as long as we are only thinking about enriching ourselves, there will never be anyone at the door to open it for us.
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