Eternal Financial Planning

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

September 18th, 2022 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 16:1-13

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During my lifetime, new professions have been created. They have names like IT specialist, astronaut or website designer. I even recall the first time I heard about someone becoming a financial planner. These were all professions that didn’t even exist when my parents brought me into the world.

Which leads me to wonder at the role Jesus took on when he gave “financial advice” to his disciples in today’s gospel. (He was always a bit ahead of his time.) This story is likely familiar to some, as it is read at Mass every four years. It is sometimes called the gospel of the deceptive steward. It’s about how an employee used his master’s money for his personal advantage.

Before saying something about the gospel, allow me to share a personal story.

My dad owned a small business, so he was always attuned to financial matters. Into his nineties, he daily watched what he called “the tape,” which reported on the day’s stock market, both gains and losses. He owned a few shares of this and that.

As I sat next to him, I commented that I thought it was interesting that he kept an exact account of his monetary investments. Or as I put it, “always counting your money.” He smiled at me and said words I will never forget. “I’m not counting my money. I’m counting yours!”

It took me a while to reply. And to realize that this was at the heart of a form of financial planning that was loving, giving and generous. It was what Jesus was communicating in today’s gospel. Wealth is not a private matter, but a social one. All of human wealth can be traced to God’s creation and the sharing of its bounty with us. And we are to share the wealth we have received with others, especially the less fortunate.

This is at the heart of the social teaching of the Church. The rich are called to share with the poor. The haves with the have-nots. Obviously at the national level this is often not the case. Much more than half the wealth of the United States is held by less than 10% of the population. And the gap between the so-called top and bottom is constantly growing as I write this. And not just here, but elsewhere.

The gospel proclaims that money and other resources are about giving, not getting. That’s ultimately because all that we are and have, deep down, is God’s gift to us.  

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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