"Give an account of thy stewardship" |
Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
Comprehensive Catholic Commentary
Fr. George Leo Haydock
Editor's Note: We continue with this special feature provided by John Gregory with the Haydock Commentary found at the bottom of each page of the Douay-Rheims Bible. We publish it here in conjunction with the Epistle and Gospel for the Sunday Mass, with the cogent comprehensive Catholic Commentary penned by Father George Leo Haydock. For the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost and the Feria days this week, the theme is giving an account of one's responsibilities, one's stewardship over those things God has entrusted each with. This means abiding by His laws and not being slaves to the world, the flesh and the devil for to give in to that triumverate of trouble will punch one's almost sure ticket to accommodations with Mammon who is so cunning, especially in the midst of those children of the light who are not on their guard, not tending to their duties and not vigilant to the Holy Ghost's promptings.
Epistle: Romans 8: 12-17
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if by the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the flesh, you shall live.
For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Commentary on Verse 14 They are the sons of God, by this new grace of adoption, by which also they call God, Abba; that is to say, Father, whereas under the former law of Moses, God rather governed his people by fear; there were his servants, we are his sons; and if sons, also the heirs of God, with the promise of an eternal inheritance in his kingdom, provided we suffer for Christ's sake, as he suffered for us. And surely the short sufferings in this world have no proportion, nor can be put in balance with the future endless glory, which is promised and prepared for us in heaven. (W) Abba is a Syriac word, which signifies my father. This is properly the word of free and noble children; for amongst the Hebrews, the children of slaves were not allowed to cal their fathers Abba, nor their mothers Imma. This kind of expression was very rarely used under the old law. The Hebrews called the Almighty their Lord, their God, their Salvation, their King, their Protector, their Glory, &c. but seldom their father, scarcely ever, except in the case of Solomon, who was a particular figure of the Messias, the true Son of God. On this account God said to him: "He shall call me Father and God; and I will be to him a Father, and will treat as my first-born." But it is the property of the Christian to call the Almighty his Father with confidence indeed, yet tempered with a filial awe; remembering at the same time that he is his judge. (C) Mat. Polus says that not any one of the just dared to call God, my Father, before the coming of Christ, as this favour was reserved for the time of the gospel. (In this location.) (H) Saint. Chrysostom takes notice, that God was also called the Father of the Israelites, and they his children, in the Old Testament, when God rather governed his people by fear of punishments, and promises of temporal blessings, but not in that particular manner as in the new law. (W) The Spirit Himself, &c. By the inward motions of divine love, and the peace of conscience, which the children of God experience, they have a kind of testimony of God's favor; by which they are much strengthened in the hope of their justification and salvation; but yet not so as to pretend to an absolute assurance, which is not usually granted in this mortal life: during which we are taught to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2: 12.) And that he who thinketh himself to stand, must take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10: 12.) See also Romans 11: 20, 21, 22. (C) He hath given to us, says St. John, (chapter. 1: 12.) the power, or dignity, of being the sons of God. Christ taught us to pray, and to begin our prayers with our Father, &c. (Matthew 6: 9) (W)
For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba (Father).
For the Spirit himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God.
And if sons, heirs also; heirs indeed of God, and joint heirs with Christ: yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.
Gospel: St. Matthew 16: 1 - 9
At that time, He said also to His disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods.
Commentary on Verse 1 There was a certain rich man, & c. By this parable, our Saviour advises his disciples to accompany their penitential works with deeds of mercy to the poor. (Venerable Bede) There is a certain erroneous opinion, that obtains pretty generally amongst mankind, and which tends to increase crimes, and to lessen good works: and this is, the foolish persuasion that men are not accountable to any one, and that we can dispose as we please of the things in our possession. (Saint John Chrysostom) --- Whereas we are here informed, that we are only the dispensers of another's property, viz. God's. (Saint Ambrose) When, therefore, we employ it not according to the will of our Master, but fritter and squander it away in pleasure, and in the gratification of our passions, we are, beyond all doubt, unjust stewards. (Theop.) And a strict account will be required of what we have thus dissipated, by our common Lord and Master. If then we are only stewards of that which we possess, let us cast from our minds that mean superciliousness and pride which the outward splendor of riches is so apt to inspire; and let us put on the humility, the modesty of stewards, knowing well that to whom much is given, much will be required. Abundance of riches makes not a man great, but the dispensing them according to the will and intention of his employer. (H) The intention of this parable, is to shew what use each one ought to make of the goods which God has committed to his charge. In the three former parables, addressed tot he murmuring Scribes and Pharisees, our Saviour shews with what goodness he seeks the salvation and conversion of a sinner; in this, he teaches how the sinner, when converted, ought to correspond to his vocation, and preserve with great care the inestimable blessing of innocence. (C) A steward, & c. The parable puts us in mind, that let men be ever so rich or powerful in this world, God is still their master; they are his servants, and must be accountable to him how they have managed his gifts and favors; that is, all things they have had in this world. (W)
And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.
Commentary on Verse 2 And he called him, & c. Such are the words which our Lord daily addresses to us. We daily see persons equally healthy, and likely to live as ourselves, suddenly summoned by death, to give an account of their stewardship. Happy summons to the faithful servant, who has reason to hope in his faithful administration. Not so to the unfaithful steward, whose pursuits are earthly: death to him is terrible indeed, and his exit is filled with sorrow. All thunder-stricken at these words, "now thou canst be steward no longer," he says within himself, what shall I do! (Saint Thomas Aquinas)
And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed.
I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Therefore calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?
But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty.
And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
Commentary on Verse 8 And the lord commanded, & c. By this we are given to understand, that if the lord of this unjust steward could commend him for his worldly prudence, though it were an overt act of injustice; how much more will the Almighty be pleased with those who, obedient to his command, seek to redeem their sins by alms-deeds? (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- "Give alms out of thy substance," says holy Tobias to his son, "and turn not thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass, that the face of the Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy abilities be merciful. If thou hast much, give abundantly; if thou hast little, take care, even of that little, to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward, for the day of necessity. For alms deliver from sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness." (Tobias 6: 7, 8, & c.) (Saint Thomas Aquinas) Children of this world, & c. are more prudent and circumspect as to what regards their temporal concerns, than they who profess themselves servants of God, are about the concerns of eternity. Commended the unjust steward. Literally, the steward of iniquity: not for his cheating and injustice, but for his contrivances in favour of himself. In their generation; i.e. in their concerns of this life. They apply themselves with greater care and pains, in their temporal affairs, than the children of light, whom God has favored with the light of faith, do to gain Heaven. (W)
And I say to you: Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity; that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
Commentary on Verse 9 Make for yourselves friends, & c. Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbor, to give to the poor: evil is never to be done, that good may come from it. (Saint Thomas Aquinas) --- But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God, by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly celestial and spiritual. (Saint Augustine, de quest. Evang.) Of the mammon of iniquity. Mammon is a Syriac word for riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity. Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity, not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices. (W) Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten, ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian. They may receive. By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to Heaven. (C) They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles. What a beautiful thought this! What a consolation to the rich man, when the terms of his mortal existence is approaching, to think he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among the poor by relieving their temporal wants. The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal and infinite happiness. Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives. (H)