You Cannot Serve God and Mammon
With insights on the Sunday Gospel Readings from the Revelations to Maria Valtorta
Year C September 22, 2013
25th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Gospel Reading: Luke 16:1-13
Other Readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 13:1-2, 4-8; 1 Timothy 2:1-8
I. From the Evangelical Catholic Study Bible and the Poem of the Man-God:
The Parable of the Shrewd Steward. Near Jericho The Poem III,380/p.639
Luke 16:1 AND Jesus also said to His disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward. And the steward was accused of having wasted his goods. 2 So he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of you? Turn over the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be a steward. 3 And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord is taking from me the stewardship? To dig, I am not able. To beg, I am ashamed.
4 I know what I will do that when I am removed from the stewardship others may receive me into their houses. 5 Therefore, calling together every one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first: How much do you owe my lord? 6 And he said: An hundred barrels of oil [900 gallons]. And he said to him: Take your bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then he said to another: How much do you owe? He said: An hundred quarters of wheat [900 bushels]. He said to him: Take your bill and write eighty. 8 And the lord [when he discovered the deed] commended the unrighteous steward, because of the shrewdness in what he had done. For [it is true that] the children of this world are wiser towards their own contemporaries than are the children of light. 9 And I say to you: Make unto yourselves [spiritual] friends using the mammon of iniquity [material wealth], that when you shall fail [morally and spiritually], they may [by their intercessory prayers for you in Heaven] receive you into everlasting dwellings!
10 He who is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is greater. And he who is unjust in that which is little is unjust also in that which is greater. 11 If then you have not been faithful in [regard to] unrighteous mammon [material wealth], who will trust you with that which is the true [wealth]? 12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s [as a steward of either other men’s or God’s entrustments], who will give you that which is your own [that which was destined to be your own by inheritance, either on earth or in Heaven]? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [material wealth]. [Money is not to be our master, but our servant to help us serve God.]
14 Now the Pharisees who were covetous [of material wealth], heard all these things, so they derided Jesus. 15 So He said to them: You are they who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts [that you are not justified before Him], for that which is highly regarded by men [the selfish pursuit of wealth] is an abomination before God!
II. From the Rest of the Gospel Story and the Poem of the Man-God:
The Parable of the Shrewd Steward. The Poem III, 380/p.639
Next day near Jericho (4 miles), to a crowd that has gathered which included Pharisees and Essenes: Man’s general sin of misusing the material goods of the earth that God has given him, and turning them into occasions for sin and crime, Jesus says, would require a strict accounting and punishment unless salvation is found for such sin. Since both the poor, by their envy and covetousness, and the rich, by their indulgence, both sin and thus need salvation, He tells how each can use what they find as an occasion for evil in their lives to be the occasion of their salvation and holiness. “The poor who is not envious, who does not curse, who does not attempt to take what belongs to other people, but is happy with what he has, exploits his humble condition in order to achieve future holiness . . .” Since Jesus admits that most of the poor know how to do that, Jesus addresses the rich to show them how they also can be saved from the three deadly lusts that come from the love of money: lust for material things, for power and for the pleasures of the flesh. In short, He tells the parable of the Shrewd Steward (Lk. 16:1-8) to show that the wealth of the rich must be used to make them rich, not for this life, but for the next life. He teaches that those of the world often have more wisdom concerning temporal matters in planning ahead than those who are enlightened with eternal truths, as the Pharisees. At the point where Jesus speaks about having to choose between God and Mammon (v.13), an Essene objects, stating his case for the divine predestination of all things, even evil and damnation. Jesus responds by making it clear God cannot be unjust or the author of evil and that God created all men with equal love. A Scribe, to tempt Him, objects to Jesus’ point of man’s free will by claiming temptation to sin is too great and that God is thus not fair. After he is rebuked by the truth, the Essene, who wants to know the truth, now asks Jesus why He would believe in the resurrection of the physical body. Jesus’ answer is so profound and so filled with the Spirit that the man is dramatically converted, instantly leaving the empty doctrines of the Essenes.
[NOTE: The three distinct themes in vv. 16-18 that follow are clearly missing their essential contexts as they present no continuity and v.17 is obscure. The Poem provides both continuity and clarity to this entire Gospel text which follows:]
“The severe Law and the Prophets (v.16) who foretold Me, but notwithstanding the cries of their distressing prophecies they were not able to withhold sin, end with John. After John, comes the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Love. I say to the humble: ‘Go in, it is for you.’ And everyone with a good will strives to go in.” Now, speaking directly to the Pharisees (whom He actually names), He charges them with distorting and changing the eternal, never changing (v.17) Law by creating loopholes for their sins. He charges them with ignoring the real meaning of, “You shall not commit adultery,” to which, in order to give back the original meaning, He says must be added, “He who sends back his wife to marry another one is adulterous, and he who marries a woman repudiated by her husband is adulterous (v.18), because what God joined, death can only separate.” [See Gospel episode 187. for Jesus’ more complete treatment of the subject.]