Sunday, August 02, 2015

Manipulating Mammon

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the ninth Sunday after Trinity 2015

Let’s get this straight. Our Lord says to us, “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

What does he mean here? Can we enter into Eternal life with God with unrighteous things? What is Jesus talking about?


Let’s just review things.

A rich man’s steward squanders the rich man’s belongings. The rich man says, “Right! Make a list of where you’ve got to, because you’ve got the sack.” The steward says, “Oh dear, what am I going to do. I can’t do manual work and I’m too proud to beg. What I need to do is to get myself into people’s good books.” So, as he writes up the accounts for his master, he halves the debts of those who owe his master. The master sees this, and what does he do? Does he actually condone what the steward has done? After all, the steward is doing exactly the same thing that he was fired for – he’s wasting the master’s belongings.

Well, no, it isn’t the squandering that the master is commending. The master essentially says to himself, “what a clever rascal this chap is! He’s used his wits to ensure that he has somewhere to go.” That’s typical of Children of the World, they can always use their wits to get themselves out of trouble. The Children of Light are not so good at that.


The Children of Light tend to get themselves into difficulties because they don’t know how to use material things. Sometimes they’re too honest and find themselves paying more tax when they could have gotten away with paying less. Sometimes, they are too kind by holding a door open for one person only for a whole coachful of slow-moving tourists to appear at the door just behind. Sometimes, they help someone pick up the coins that they have dropped only then to be accused of stealing. Sometimes, they give money to the homeless man on the street only for that man to use that money to buy drugs.

Children of Light are always being trodden down and taken advantage of. Perhaps we need to become more worldly wise.


It seems that Our Lord is saying precisely that, but not in a way that we become dishonest, uncaring, mean, or unhelpful. We are to make use of the unrighteous things of this world in order to make friends in Heaven. If we see ourselves as stewards of God’s Creation, then we need to use that Creation to win friends. If we are Children of Light, then we seek the friendship of God and a deepening of that relationship by ensuring that we act as He would want us to act, and do things that he would approve of.

The riches of this world are finite and can be wasted by giving them away. If we live as Children of the World then we can indeed waste our lives. If we live as stewards of God’s world then we are stewards of His love. God’s can only be wasted if we refuse to give it to other people. God’s love is infinite, so being generous with it actually makes more of it.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares .” These very angels will be the ones who receive us into Eternity at the end of our stewardship of God’s love.

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