The kingdom of Christ breaks into the world, first through the person of Jesus and now through his Church. He put aside his glory and embraced our poverty. Indeed, the Alleluia verse says that “By his poverty you might become rich.” We are all the poor man in Christ.
The Gospel presents us with the parable of the dishonest steward. Jesus knew what type of crowd he was addressing. They were indeed sinners and even the poor among them had the rich man’s dreams.
Our Lord is not commending the steward. The steward neither repents nor converts. Indeed, he stole from his master first and he steals again from him at the end. In order to ingratiate himself to the various debtors, he remits what they owe, thus stealing what (by rights) belongs to his master. His master commends him, not because he is happy about being robbed but because he can appreciate worldly prudence. Indeed, if the steward is a thief, his master is probably the biggest thief of all. Such men are labeled by Christ as “children of this world” and the ultimate master of this world is the devil.
Our Lord would not have “the children of light” possess such values or to imitate their tactics; rather Jesus wants us to have a comparable passion and wisdom for justice and truth. Making friends with “dishonest wealth” does not mean that we should seek out stolen money and goods. It is an expression for worldly riches. We are urged to employ the things of the world for the purposes of the kingdom. Worldly power and wealth should be exerted to care for the poor, the oppressed and the hurting. The things that are passing can serve a transitory purpose in that which is lasting and more important, the building up of a compassionate society and the Church which preaches mercy.
His listeners are left with a profound choice. Are they children of the world (the devil) or children of the light (God). Ours is a jealous God. “No servant can serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” Where is your heart? To whom do you belong?