Readings for the 18th Sunday after Pentecost
Luke 16:1-15; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Amos 8:4-7
A boss praises his worker for being dishonest?! Money should be used to buy friends?! Sunday’s readings return us to the familiar Gospel theme of the Christian’s proper attitude towards his money and possessions (or Mammon, for short). But Jesus addresses this topic in a parable that is challenging to interpret on a number of points.
We may skip these debated questions for now and go straight to the punchline which I believe is this: Money is a tool, a valuable tool – even for the Christian. And the prudent Christian knows how to put his/her money to work for the sake of God’s Kingdom. The world is, sadly, much more savvy in its use of money than Christians are (Lk 16).
The Old Testament reading follows the same theme, but with a more stern message. The prophet Amos warns of God’s judgment on all who engage in deceptive business practices that cheat others – especially the poor. (Fraudulent activities at Wells Fargo Bank are only the latest example, and by no means the worst.) Just because a practice is legal doesn’t mean that it’s right (Amos 8).
In the Epistle reading, Paul instructs pastor Timothy to lead his congregation in praying for their civil leaders. A peaceful and well-ordered society allows for the widespread and unhindered preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, for God desires all people to be saved (1 Tim 2).