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Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time ©

My dear encountered couples:

Trust! There’s a virtue for us. How so very important it is to be trustworthy! How so very much we want the people in our lives to be trustworthy! The man in the parable was not. He managed a rich man’s money. But not very well. In fact, we are told he squandered it - possibly on himself. Was he manipulating the books to make it look like everything was fine, while actually siphoning off as large a chunk as he could into his own pocket? If he was, he got caught at it and the money taken from him, for he seems to have ended up with nothing.

To prove his dishonesty he manipulated the books again in order to make friends with his master’s debtors. He lowered the amounts of money they owed the rich man. We call that “fraud,” the art of deliberate deception to gain or acquire something dishonestly. In other words, cheating somebody. We call it “embezzlement,” the taking of something, usually money, for one’s own purpose in violation of a trust. Whatever we might call it, the type of person this manager was is not the kind of person you would want in your house when your wallet is lying around in clear view.

Speaking of that: Are you able to leave your wallet on the kitchen table in your house? Or on the dresser in your bedroom without worrying about it? Or do you find you have to hide your wallet somewhere? And maybe change hiding places every once in awhile? (I’ve done that and then forget where I put it.) Do you have a little dish or bowl where you can empty out the change in your pocket and be sure it will be there when you need some of it? To be able to trust the people we live with, and for them to be able to trust us, makes for a secure home where we can lay down our heads and get a good night’s sleep. Honesty, trustworthiness, reliability, is a virtue or virtues that all parents should do their best to instill in their children. They can’t be talked about or praised enough, not only for the benefit of our children but for our own benefit.

Parents, all of us who aren’t parents, must be trustworthy before we can ever expect children to be. And not only when it comes to the use and ownership of money. It involves everything. Truthful when we speak, honest and open in answering questions, respectful of other people’s possessions, reliable in fulfilling a duty or job we are expected to do, and do them to our best ability.

When Jesus Christ submitted himself to pain and crucifixion, when he gave up his life for us, he trusted that we would cherish the benefits of his death and resurrection and not squander them. When God created us and gave us this beautiful, productive earth to live on and told us to use it and take care of it, he trusted that we would not harm or abuse it, but treat it well, and grow in love and perfection on it. The talents and abilities he gave us he trusted we would use for the benefit of not only ourselves but for one and all. He did not intend us to use them for the purpose of cheating and lying, stealing, defrauding, and conning people.

Our use of what God has given us shows what kind of people we are. Good and trustworthy, or bad and undependable.

Let me try to practicalize a bit this parable that Jesus tells: God is that rich man who has entrusted his valuables to us to manage. Those valuables are the world and all that is in it. Those valuables are our talents and abilities that make it possible for us to manage the world in such a way that it helps us grow in the likeness of his Son. When we grow in the likeness of the manager in our parable more than in the likeness of Christ, that means we are misusing, we are dissipating God’s property. It means he made a big mistake putting his confidence in us. He expects us to be reliable and trustworthy, people of integrity and moral soundness. Do you know what the antonyms of being trustworthy are? What some opposite words of being honest are?

Here are a few samples: The opposite of being trustworthy, of being honest people of good reliable character is not merely being untrustworthy or dishonest. It is being disloyal, faithless, sneaky, corrupt, treasonous, traitorous. The manager in the parable was in essence all those things. Can we at any time in our lives possibly identify with him in any way?

In the world of business, in the world of politics, where we work at our jobs, carry out our careers, do we try to do as God expects of us? With our families, with our friends, can they feel relaxed and safe when we are with them? On the sporting fields of competition, can we be trusted to play fairly. Can anybody trust us to keep a secret?

There is so much involved in being a trustworthy person. Maybe that’s because all virtues are in some way or other connected to one another. All the virtues require the exercise of one another’s attributes for even one of them to become complete in our character. The manager of the rich man’s goods might have exhibited a lot of cleverness and worldly wisdom, known as “streetsmarts,” when it came to surviving. But I’ll bet he had few real friends, if any, who would leave their wallets lying around anywhere when he was around.

“If you can trust a man in little things,” Jesus tells us, “you can also trust him in greater; while anyone unjust in a slight matter is also unjust in greater. If you cannot be trusted with elusive wealth, who will trust you with lasting? If you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s money, who will give you what is your own?”

Trustworthy, honest, dependable, reliable. Would that everybody were those things! But before everybody ever will be, there are two people I can think of who must be. Me, for one, - and thee!

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