Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of September 23, 2007
1st reading: Am 8:4-7; Psalm 112; 2nd Reading: 1 Tim 2:1-8; Gospel: Lk 16:1-13
At that time Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer'. The manager said to himself, 'What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg. I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses'. "So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 'Nine hundred gallons of olive oil' he replied. The manager told him, 'Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty. Then he asked the second, 'And how much do you owe?' 'A thousand bushels of wheat,' he replied. He told him, 'Take your bill and make it eight hundred.' The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money".
The parable you just heard was already explained, but today we will linger on it a little longer and we will do it for two reasons: the first is that Luke is the only evangelist telling it. The second reason is based on the fact that this parable is difficult to interpret and, to better understand it, it is necessary to make a general premise. When Jesus was preaching through parables He was interested, and even today this is true, that people would listen to Him and would quickly pick the subject that was treated, without getting lost in details. The latter, in fact, are not important in parables, what counts is the underlying theme that Jesus wants to be treated. The teaching of this parable is clear: you have to use wealth properly and honestly. The details are then entrusted to the interpretation of those commenting it and interpretations are not always identical because they reflect the spirit, culture, sensitivity, spirituality of the one commenting it. I will not dwell on the entire story as it is understood by everyone. In fact, it talks about a manager who is declared dishonest by his own master. Craftiness was his way of life, even going against the interests of his own master, taking care of his own personal gain only.
Let us analyze the sentence: "The master commended the dishonest manager"; generally we give the word "commend" a very positive meaning, but in this case the verb has, in my opinion, a different meaning. The master "commends" the dishonest manager in the sense that he recognizes but not appreciates him, and admits: "You have been crafty". If we look around we notice that this statement, in the entire Church history, has a very clear citizenship right. Let us ask ourselves who are the ones following a career today. Are they perhaps the good people, honest people, and those who love our Lord? Are they the ones who strive to respect the commandments and make the Word of God their rule of life and, as St. Paul says, are committed in preaching the Gospel in all its authenticity, without neglecting the smallest detail? In addition, today's dishonest administrators, or most of them, are the ones having more power in the Church. It is not me saying that, but God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary; Peter, Paul and St. Joseph too said that. If you recollect the letters of God, you have certainly noticed how insistently He is asking to pray for the conversion of the big men in the Church. If they were honest, if they would use their power to serve and not to impose their views, there would not have been this continuous call from God to pray for their conversion, starting from the very top, down to the smallest of priests. I must admit that they were skilled in getting where they got but, as the master in the parable acknowledged the dishonest administrator, I too, and you with me, cannot fail to recognize that today's administrators are dishonest. But how do you fight dishonesty? This is what our Lord and the Virgin Mary taught us when they said again and again many times: "Wake up from the long sleep", that is: "Fight, react". How many times we were told: "Obedience yes, blackmail no", and these words are the practical translation of the teachings Jesus gave us in the Gospel. The Virgin Mary is the creature who best knows the true meaning of Jesus' teachings, and when she use these expressions we have to enter in a state of meditation and ask ourselves whether we are fools or just silly. To defend and serve the truth we must not look in anybody's face, we must not be conditioned by the office or charge that the "crafty ones" have, or by the power or followers these people have. Dante said: "Be ye as men, and not as silly sheep". We must not be sheep going behind the first we see passing by, but we must take our life in our hand and always deal with the Gospel and when it is even slightly violated we must, with all our strength, say: "This I won't do, this I don't believe, this I won't comply with". The sentence: "He who is faithful in the little things is faithful also in the big things", means just that, in other words if we are faithful in defending the small truths, we will be faithful also in defending the great truths. And we did just that. Our loyalty is expressed in defending the Eucharist, the Eucharistic miracles, the apparitions of the Mother of the Eucharist and the Bishop of the Eucharist ordained by God. These are all God's works and we will defend them even if this were to result in persecutions, condemnations and sometimes misunderstanding from our relatives. We must not look in anybody's face and move forward with confidence and courage. The dishonest administrator was praised, hence approved, he was recognized he acted with shrewdness and behold: "The people of this world in dealing with their own kind" that is, towards their brethren, and we are the ones, "are more shrewd than the people of the light". If this teaching of Christ were put into practice, we would always had the courage to correct those who go against the Gospel and today the Church would not be in this condition. The absurdity is that sometimes the good and the honest are numerically larger than the dishonest people, but they must succumb to what the latter say. Read again the letters of God, you will find a confirmation of everything. It is not possible that one man only, just because he has power, has to instill fear and terror in the tens of confreres. Be united, not to fight authority, but to defend the truth. Many times these cunning and dishonest administrators are not even valid and authentic authority before God, as they are excommunicated, but you continue to bow down in front of them, you continue to smile because there is no strength to fight back. It is not possible that an administrator, who is basically an employee, is stronger, more capable than his head or his master. We must not allow that. We were not called, and I say this clearly, to have a comfortable living, with achievements and triumphs, even though they might come, but this is not the moment; now is the moment of struggle and coherence, it's time to show strength and courage. "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings". Jesus uses an extremely significant adjective: "unrighteous", because, as He has already said, the wealth, which in itself is neither good nor bad, can become good or bad according to the use you make of it. Then this sentence is to be understood as follows: do good with your wealth, be generous, help the poor, sustain those in needs. The rich man will not enter the kingdom of heaven or rather: "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven". These dishonest administrators I have speaking of are rich, but they do not care to give to others. Jesus speaks clearly, those who are generous are welcomed into eternal dwellings, that is to say that God, because of this charity, this love, opens the doors of Heaven, and this we have seen so many times. Do you know how many people, while not living in the full observance of commandments or even going against some of them, have nevertheless complied with the great commandment of love, were very generous, they did good deeds and after a stay in Purgatory for purification, God opened the gates of Heaven to them. Now the parable is clear, it is just like when we tune on the radio channels, if we are not properly tuned or our radio is not perfect, you do not understand the words; but if we are tuned and the radio is good, we understand. If we are honest, good, in the grace of God and united with God, then we will understand this concept: "Father, I thank you because you have shown these things to little children, to the least, to the weakest and they understood, surely they were not understood by the educated, the rich and the man of power, but only those who surrendered to You". We are these "little ones" when we listen and try to understand God and put into practice what He says. Once again, the letters of God help us to understand this reality and this truth. One of my most difficult tasks is to go against the mainstream, but I am supported and encouraged by Jesus' words: "Have you heard what the ancients said"; this is the new word, the new interpretation, the new meaning. So far in the Church we went ahead with slogans, with repeated claims that, incidentally, always favor the top but never the base. We must begin to act differently, because we are all equal before God. To God, the Pope is no more important than a garbage collector, than a cardinal or an illiterate family mother. A bishop has no greater right to access God than a child because the Lord judges us and respect us for what we are, that's why we find people in Heaven that have been neglected in their earthly life and to whom was given neither importance, nor fame, nor media coverage. These are considered holy before God; He calls them to be with him and has with them an extremely affectionate and respectful dialogue. Instead the great men who have filled pages in history or the artists who have left works that are part of our culture, would go to Heaven close to the simple and humble souls only if they were honest, but if they were proud and haughty, and were still able to enter the Heaven at the last moment, perhaps with somebody's help, surely they are not in the first row. The concept expressed in the parable of Luke is reported again: "My friend, give up your seat, there is someone more important than you are". Do you see how the word of God is true and vital, so even a simple widow granny may hear from God: "My daughter, come forth, you loved me more than all of these and I'll give you what you deserve for I am God and no one can resist Me or afford to change my opinions and my decisions". I would have liked to talk also about the passage from the letter to Timothy, which is really important, but now I urge you to focus your attention on this reading of the Gospel, read it again carefully, put it next to the explanation that was given to you, and remember that God speaks to the humble and to the simple and that the Holy Spirit gives his light to those who get in touch with him. Remember that God the Son is present in the hearts of those who love him, not in the heart of those who have power. May everything always go for the glory of the Father, we call Dad, for the Son, we call Brother, for the Holy Spirit, we call Friend, for the revival and the glory of the Church, for the salvation of the Church and the world. Praised be Jesus Christ.