BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)


*Amos 8 : 4 – 7, 1 Tim 2 :1-8, Lk 16 : 1-13.

We are all stewards (nwaboyi) or God’s managers on this earthly business. There are about 4 kinds /species of Stewards involved in this business;
(a) Foolish stewards – characterized by laziness and worldliness, Matt 25: 26. (b) Unjust stewards – characterized by cheating of fellow stewards.
(c) Wicked stewards – characterized by hating /oppression of fellow stewards, Lk 12: 45.
(d) Wise stewards – characterized by loving /caring for fellow stewards.
Jesus presents us with a beautiful parable showcasing a steward who was initially foolish (by being lazy and wasteful), unjust (by falsifying accounts), wicked (by stealing his master’s wealth) yet ended up wisely. Jesus does not praise the steward’s knavery (ingeniousness in deceit) but his proactive reason, astute wisdom and foresight. As soon as he saw the imminence of judgment, he took a prompt action that was futuristic, far sighted and salutary.

The Church teaches that there will similarly be 4 last things;
(a) Death is going to be like a future discharge from service. Therefore, we must be careful to ensure that we have retrenchment benefits (for those who may die suddenly) or retirement benefits (for those who may die at old age),Wis 3: 1-8.
(b) Judgment is going to be a request for the account of our stewardship, Heb 9: 27.
(c) Heaven is going to be the highest reward for our positive stewardship, Jn 14: 1-2.
(d) Hell /Purgatory is going to be the punishment for our negative stewardship, Lk 12: 44 – 47 – ‘Fewer strokes of the cane’ means there would be a rescue operation after some punishments for souls lucky enough to be in purgatory, 1 Cor 3: 15. All of us seem to be in the same predicament as this dishonest manager – death and demotion is imminent. Therefore, to reduce our imminent suffering, we need to make spiritual investments investments (Isusu nke alaeze), remembering that ‘charity covers a multitude of sins’, 1Pet 4: 8.

Our world is so full of exploitation today that we need to listen again to the warnings of the Prophet Amos in today’s 1st reading. So many people are involved in this business of exploitation in Nigeria for example;
(i) Some fuel sellers reset their meters.
(ii) Some medicine sellers dispense chalk and expired drugs for tablets.
(iii) Some grain sellers (garri, rice, beans) retouch their cups while some use dangerous chemicals in order to preserve their grains and end up selling poisons to people.
(iv) Some cement sellers are rebagging.
(v) Some spare parts dealers are washing old parts and reselling them as new.
(vi) Some goat sellers give ‘kai kai’ (dry gin) to make a sick goat look agile and healthy.
(vii) Some furniture makers spray inferior wood (akpu) and sell it as mahogany (costly wood).
(viii) Some sellers of oil bean (ukpaka) add mango seeds to make more gain.
(ix) Some knowledge sellers/lecturers now sell certificates (As) to the highest bidders or most submissive of girls.
(x) Some employers now sell their consciences and employ unqualified people as lecturers to teach our children (because of IM) neglecting the application letters of more qualified candidates. Same happens in politics where better candidates are sacrificed for percuniary reasons (They will say “Ashua azumama”).
(xi) Some preachers and dispensers of grace (sacraments) now call their prizes before they can allow people of God into the throne of God’s mercy.
– The Prophet Amos has summarized everything in these words: ‘They buy up the poor for money and the needy for a pair of sandals’. The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob, ‘Never will I forget a single thing you have done’. This is why nemesis is catching up with a lot of people today.

Let me summarize our systems of exploitation under 4 families;
(i) The rich who trample on the poor; We have direct and indirect exploitation – artificial inflation caused by hoarding of commodities by the rich, vocation /career hijack by the rich class, hiking of school fees in public schools, political jerrymandering, disenfranchisement and godfatherism, examination malpractice, slave drivers abusing their maids (‘Nwa Nsukka’ syndrome among the ‘Agbaenu’ ), older Politicians not allowing the younger ones to come up, etc.
(ii) The poor who trample on the rich; Beggar mentality /over dependence on the rich by the poor, duping /419, market pranks, witchcrafting (I buru ogbenye buru amosu), image mudslinging /name smearing, etc.
(iii) The Church who trample on the poor; Undue Church taxations, improper use of Church money /tithes, selling of sacraments, embezzlement of Church money, sexual abuse of minors or indigent poor ladies in the name of charity, brain washing, devilmania /seeing every evil as caused by the devil, false prophesies, excess praying at the expense of quality use of time for legitimate work, making the poor contribute to set up mission schools that will end up affordable only to the the rich, etc.
(iv) The government who trample on both the poor and the rich; Through oppressive administrative policies, seizing of salaries and contract funds, marginalization of particular tribes or communities, etc.
*Sometimes, one wonders what system of government we are actually practising in Nigeria? Is it Theocracy (government by men of God), Democracy (government by the majority), Monarchy (government by a special family), Oligarchy (government by the rich class), Aristocracy (government by the elites), or Plutocrasy (government by some party cabals)?

There is danger both in riches and in poverty for the following reasons;
(a) Christ warns in today’s gospel about the worship of ‘mammon’ – that tainted thing – the god of commerce. The credo of these worshippers is : ‘Gain at all costs’.
(b) Love of money may likely make one suppress the poor in order to get richer. The ambition to grow richer or remain rich will most likely make one to be less sensitive about the needs of the poor. They say : ‘Money is honey’. It leads to pride and makes one have less regard /need for God. “Nrashi” is a dangerous consumerist ideology that is all over the air in Enugu State today. It is amoral to use money distribution to achieve negative political quests. There is attraction to other vices like lust, drunkenness (as one goes to night clubs everyday), etc.
(c) The 3 dangerous ‘W’ s for great men are: Wealth, Women and Wine. Take a case study of the downfall of King Solomon,Sir 47: 14 – 19.
(d) Jesus in today’s gospel recognizes money as a master and warns that ‘no one can be a slave of 2 masters; God and Money. Money is a good servant but a dangerous master; it likes to go to Church but doesn’t like to remain there.
(e) Abject poverty is also an evil that deflates self ego, sound reasoning and makes one beggarly.

Jesus’ message today is that human beings are more important than things (money). You can’t buy happiness, love or even respect. Things don’t make one happy but people do. Possessing God and being possessed by God is what can make us truly happy.
Jesus praises the astuteness of the servant who used the money he had access to in order to secure a good future.
* According to Monsignor Tadeo Onoyima : ‘The only money you have is the one you have given to the poor’.
* Vima Dasan says that ‘Helping the poor is justice not just charity’.
There are 4 ways of spending your money and these have their consequences;
(a) For yourself alone – may lead to selfishness.
(b) Give it to the poor – may lead to selflessness.
(c) Give it to the Church – may lead to godliness.
(d) Give it to your friends – may lead to astuteness. The ‘Remember – me – principle’ states: Be kind to the man you meet on your way up; he may help you on your way down. It worked for Joseph in prison and may work for you, Gen 41.
You may need to act now! Remember: Procrastination is a thief of time. If Christians work half as hard to make heaven as they do to make money or to make friends on earth, then heaven will be guaranteed.
Right now, there are some poor people crying for your assistance – poor students being sent out of schools, poor widows and orphans begging for food; some sick people are dying with no money for the hospital bills – Let’s invest on such people! Happy Sunday dear friends!


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