Yesterday’s gospel speaks of a dishonest steward (Lk 16:1-8); today’s speaks of dishonest wealth (Lk 16:9-15). In both instances, Jesus points a way towards God. And praise be to God for it! For who among us can claim to be innocent in all things? Who can claim to have no complicity at all in the dishonest systems of riches, honor, and pride that seems the way of this world? It was in this world that “He who knew no sin was made sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21). And yet, even in the midst of this world he knew no sin, which means that, in Christ, we, too, can follow God in this world of dishonest wealth. But for the Son, “who alone is Holy” (cf. Gloria), this is not a matter of being a “holier than thou.” It is the Pharisees in the gospel who are the ones “holier than thou” and who try to walk through this world without getting their hands dirty. They are the ones who—in our day—might judge others for, say, drinking bottled water, while they themselves hold a diet soda which not only pollutes with the same plastic bottle, but also uses up additional resources to produce a drink with no nutritional value, for them or for the starving masses. “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God” (Lk 16:15).
It is better not to judge as they do, for we are swimming in dishonest wealth, and the one who tries to be “holier than thou” always ends up being even less faithful to her own standard than anyone else. Jesus points to a different way: “the person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” (Lk 16:10). Someone who sits around worrying about whether she might be able to resist torture and martyrdom could be wasting her time if God is asking her to do something far more simple and concrete in the moment, something that she is ignoring because of these “deep thoughts.” Be concerned with the small tasks through which God is inviting you to love now; if you are faithful in these, then God can entrust to you greater things in due time, and will grant the grace of fidelity in those tasks as well. But someone who imagines that she can ignore the simple fidelities to which she is being invited but will “step up to the plate” and be faithful in great things is living an illusion. God does not give you the grace today for imagined possibilities for the future, but only the grace that you need for today (cf. Mt 6:11,34).