This weekend’s Gospel presents us with a familiar and basic question: Whom do we serve? We have heard all our lives (hopefully) that we “cannot serve both God and mammon.” This is such a common Gospel saying we are probably very familiar with it. We interpret the “mammon” as money, wealth, or possessions. The basic question nudges us to think of serving “mammon” in another way … in terms of serving self. We are our own greatest wealth, our own greatest possession. But even we ourselves can get in the way of Gospel living. The challenge is to pay attention to how we are living and to sincerely ask ourselves the basic question … Whom do we serve? Our answer might surprise us at times.
The wily steward is clearly self-serving and decisive in doing what he thinks is necessary for his own immediate well-being. But by acting in this way, he risks squandering his eternal well-being (“eternal dwellings”). To secure this, he needed to choose to serve God rather than self. Serving self keeps us mired in our immediate concerns, wants, and needs. Serving God frees us to be decisive in doing what is necessary to secure the best for both this life and the next. The irony is that had the wily steward chosen to serve God and God alone, he would, in fact, chosen to serve himself in the best way possible. By serving God and God alone, he would have secured the only future worth having – eternal Life. So, the question for us remains, “Whom do we serve?” It is a critical and ongoing question for us.
Only by serving God alone can we ever secure for ourselves a sure future … being “welcomed into eternal dwellings.” We must handle the things of this world and our daily actions in relation to what is eternal and with prudent decisiveness. Prudent decisiveness about our future means that we grow in our relationship with God and that relationship is witnessed by the simple choices of our daily living. To put it simply, prudent decisiveness about our future means that God is truly at the center of our lives. Truly, we serve God and God alone.
When it comes to Paschal Mystery living, we often squander opportunities to gain “true wealth.” The thrust of the Gospel is that we act prudently in this life in order to “be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Prudence demands that we not squander opportunities to be charitable and just toward others. Prudence demands that we not squander opportunities to die to self. Prudence demands that we not squander opportunities to be trustworthy with the ministry of discipleship which we take on each time we say yes to our Baptismal commitment.
Most of us are serious about our Paschal Mystery living. We honestly try to live good lives. When opportunities present themselves to act in a Christian way, most of us respond appropriately most of the time. This weekend’s Gospel challenges us to take this one step further. Paschal Mystery living isn’t simply a matter of surrendering to the self-sacrificing possibilities that come our way simply in the normal course of daily living. With an eye to the future, we must also surrender ourselves to actually searching out opportunities to live the Paschal Mystery. There is an urgency about discipleship and proclaiming the Good News of salvation that we cannot be passive in any way. Ultimately, any kind of passivity is self-serving. This Gospel calls us to be God-serving. Only by serving God do we gain everything for this life, and assure our place in “eternal dwellings.”
May Saint Michael the Archangel defend, guide, protect, and intercede for us always!