There was a time when God seemed an ally of the rich. Well-being, luck, abundance of goods were considered signs of his blessing.
The first time the Hebrew word kesef (which means silver or more commonly, money) appears in the Bible, it is referred to Abraham. He “was very rich in cattle, silver and gold” (Gen 13:2). Isaac “sowed crops and in that year harvested a hundredfold” (Gen 26:12-13). Jacob owned countless “oxen, asses, flocks, men-servants and maidservants” (Gen 32:5). The Psalmist, too, does not know better than to promise to the just one, saying: “Abundance and wealth will be in your home” (Ps 112:3).
Poverty was a disgrace. It was believed to be a result of laziness, idleness and debauchery. “A little sleep, a little drowsiness, a little folding of the arms to rest, poverty will come” (Prov 24:33-34).
A change of perspective arrives with the prophets. One begins to understand that the assets accumulated by the rich are not always the result of their honest work and the blessing of God, but often of cheating, violations of the rights of the most vulnerable.
Even the wise men of Israel denounce the rich; “But the rich man who has had his fill cannot sleep” (Eccl 5:11). “Gold has ruined many” (Sir 8:2).
Jesus considers both greed of goods of this world and honestly earned wealth, as almost insurmountable obstacles to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. The deceitfulness of wealth chokes the seed of the Word (Mt 13:22); it tends to gradually conquer the whole human heart and leave no space for God nor for the neighbor.
Blessed is he who makes himself poor, who is no longer anxious for what he will eat or drink, who does not worry about clothes and does not get restless for tomorrow (Mt 6:25-34). Blessed is he who shares all that he has with the brothers/sisters.
To internalize the message, let us repeat:
“Christ, though he was rich, became poor to make us rich.”
PS. 24 – “The earth and all it contains, the universe and its inhabitants are of the Lord. Man is a pilgrim, lives as a stranger in a world not his own. He is a wanderer who traverses the desert. He owns a lot of land as much as his feet trod. But as he steps forward then it’s not his anymore.”
People are not owners but administrators of God’s goods. This is an often insistently repeated affirmation of the church’s fathers. We recall one, Basil. “Aren’t you a thief when you consider your own the riches of this world, riches are given to you only to administer?”
The administrator is a person who appears often in the parables of Jesus. We have one “faithful and wise” who does not act arbitrarily, but uses the goods entrusted to him according to will of the owner. We also have another one who, in the absence of the Lord, takes advantage of his position to “make himself the owner” and getting drunk and dishonors the other servants (Lk 12:42-48).
There is the enterprising administrator, who commits himself, has the courage to risk and makes the master’s capital gain profit and one who is a slacker and a sloth. The most embarrassing one is the shrewd administrator spoken of in today’s gospel.
The Lord puts a treasure in the hand of each person. What to do to administer it well?