On the eighth Sunday after Pentecost: from Divine Intimacy


Teach me, O Lord, to be a faithful, wise administrator of Your goods.


This Sunday again, as last Sunday, St Paul, in the epistle of the Mass (Rom 8:12–17), compares the two lives which always struggle within us: the life of the old man, a slave to sin and the passions, from which come the fruits of death, and that of the new man, the servant, or better, the child of God, producing fruits of life. “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.” Baptism has begotten us to the life of the spirit, but it has not suppressed the life of the flesh in us; the new man must always struggle against the old man, the spiritual must fight against the corporeal. Baptismal grace does not excuse us from this battle, but it gives us the power to sustain it. We must be thoroughly convinced of this so that we will not be deceived or disturbed if, after many years of living a spiritual life, certain passions, which we thought we had subdued forever, revive in us.

This is our earthly condition: “The life of man upon earth is a warfare” (Job 7:1), so much so that Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence” (Mt 11:12). But this continual struggle should not frighten us; for grace has made us children of God, and as such, we have every right to count on His paternal help. “You have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear,” says St Paul, “but you have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry: Abba, Father.” To increase our belief in this great truth, he adds, “The Spirit Himself giveth testimony to our spirit, that we are the sons of God.” It is as though the Apostle would like to say to us, “It is not I who tell you this, but the Holy Spirit who says it and testifies to it within you.” The Holy Spirit is in us; in us He supplicates the heavenly Father, and in us He arouses confidence and trust. “You are not slaves,” He says to us, “but children; of what are you afraid?” This is our great treasure: to be children of God, co-heirs with Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit.


Today’s Gospel (Lk 16:1–9) teaches us by means of a parable — which at first sight seems a little disconcerting — how to be wise in administering the great riches of our life of grace. When Jesus spoke this parable, He certainly had no intention of praising the conduct of the unjust steward who, after wasting his master’s goods during his whole stewardship, continued to steal even when he learned that he was to be discharged. However, Jesus did praise him for the clever way he made sure of his own future. The lesson of the parable hinges on this point: “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. 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.” Jesus exhorts the “children of light” not to be less shrewd in providing for their eternal interests than the “children of darkness” are in assuring for themselves the goods of earth.

We also, like the steward in the parable, have received from God a patrimony to administer, that is, our natural gifts, and more particularly, our supernatural gifts, and all the graces, holy inspirations, and promptings to good which God has bestowed upon us. The hour for rendering an account will come for us too, and we shall have to admit that we have often been unfaithful in trafficking with the gifts of God, in making the treasures of grace fructify in our soul. How can we atone for our infidelities? This is the moment to put into practice the teaching of the parable by which, as St Augustine says, “God admonishes all of us to use our earthly goods to make friends for ourselves among the poor. They, in turn, becoming the friends of their benefactors, will be the cause of their admission into heaven.” In other words, we must pay our debts to God by charity toward our neighbour, for Sacred Scripture tells us, “Charity covereth a multitude of sins” (1 Pt 4:8). This does not mean material charity alone, but also spiritual charity and not in great things only, but in little ones too — yes, even in the very least things, such as a glass of water given for the love of God. These little acts of charity, which are always within our power, are the riches by which we pay our debts and put in order “our stewardship”.


“O Lord, it is Your Spirit which combats within me. You gave it to me to destroy the deeds of the flesh. Moved by Your Spirit, I keep up the struggle because I have a powerful helper; my sins have slain, wounded and humbled me; but You, my Creator, were wounded for me, and by Your death You overcame mine. I bear within myself human frailty and the chains of my former slavery; in my members there is a law which opposes the law of the spirit and would drag me into the slavery of sin; my corruptible body still weighs upon my soul. Although I am made strong by Your grace, as long as I continue to carry Your treasure in this earthen vessel, I shall always have to suffer because of my frailty. You are the stability which makes me firm against all temptations; if they increase and frighten me, You are my refuge. ‘You are my hope, my inheritance in the land of the living.’

“Oh! how much I owe You, my Lord God, who redeemed me at so great a price! Oh! how much I ought to love, bless, praise, honour, and glorify You who have loved me so much! I shall give praise to Your Name, O God, who made me capable of receiving the great glory of being Your son. I owe to You all I have, all that is of use for my life, all that I know and love. Who possesses anything that is not Yours? Bestow Your gifts on me, O Lord our God, so that made rich by You, I may serve and please You, and every day return thanks to You for all that Your mercy has done for me. I cannot serve You or please You without making use of Your own gifts to me.” 

Cf. St Augustine