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It's time to start working on your spiritual future.

The Gospel reading for this week (Sunday, September 18, 2022) is a hard one to understand, especially since Jesus tells us to "make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings" and that "the "master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently". What?!


One of the better explanations I've heard of this parable is by Dr. Brant Pitre. See his talk here on YouTube: https://youtu.be/KeJJeU4sJ1I. Since it's a little over 15 minutes, here is my quick summary of the points he makes about the quotes above, in reverse order:

  1. The servant is "being commended for his foresight." Jesus uses this parable to show that "if people in this world go to extreme measures", even dishonest ones, to protect their own earthly future, "then how much more should Christians go to extreme measures to prepare for" their eternal lives. (See Pitre video 16:12-42). Preserving your eternal life would be true prudence. Fr. Benedict Groeschel put it this way, "W]hatever we do ... we should consciously and purposely live every day so that it contributes to our salvation" (Arise from Darkness, Ignatius Press, 1995, p. 88)

  2. The second quote then describes a way to be prudent: "Pay off other people's debts with the Lord's money", "so that they will welcome you into ... the heavenly Kingdom of God". (See Pitre video 11:35-12:04 and 13:40-50). The key part to understand is that "everything we actually possess in this world doesn't really belong to us. We're basically all stewards of the one true Master, God. ... We're ... managing things with someone else's money." Dr. Pitre relates this to almsgiving - selling what we have and giving to the poor - and how that builds up our spiritual wealth in heaven.

What if we think more deeply about what we give away, beyond almsgiving? In the most extreme understanding of "others' debts", can we find in this parable an understanding of forgiveness and Mercy? How much can we give of ourselves to help another? What happens when we do?


This leads me to the challenge questions for this week, the first two of which are provided by Dr. Brent Pitre (see https://youtu.be/KeJJeU4sJ1I, at 16:42 to the end):


How much time and effort do you spend preserving your earthly future: getting an education or skills for a job, building a business, managing your health, diet, and exercise, maintaining your home, investing for retirement, protecting your estate, and so on?

Now, how much time and effort do you spend working on preserving your spiritual future?


Who in your life owes "debts"? What kinds of "debts"? How could you pay down those debts for them?


What do you possess that you could start giving away? To whom could you give it?

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