Romans 16:3-9, 16, 22-27; Psalm 145:1-7; Luke 16:9-15

Luke’s Jesus speaks about money a great deal; or perhaps more precisely about possessions and the money or wealth which make them ours.  Of course, these things—wealth, money, possessions—have but one original source: the generosity of the God who brought all things into being.

As Br Geoffrey so rightly made clear in his homily yesterday on Luke’s parable of the dishonest steward or manager, all things which we call ours—possessions, relationships, power—are given to us in trust.  We are made stewards of all that we possess.  We may receive them with an avaricious or selfish attitude and come to be possessed by them.  Or we may come to realize that all we hold in trust is much better, more shrewdly or astutely, used for the building of community, for the nurture of a community in which God’s gifts to us—and the responsible sharing of them—create lasting well-being for all.

Today in Luke, Jesus goes on to elaborate on this parable’s teaching.  Our gospel translation continues to use the word mammon as a synonym for “ill-gotten gain” or “dishonest wealth”.  But the Semitic word, of which this Greek form is a transliteration, more likely means “that in which one fully trusts”.  It’s in light of this understanding that Luke’s Jesus states: You cannot serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.  You cannot find relationship and trust in God, if you fearfully guard and are possessed by your possessions.

So as we approach the Lord’s Table today, the question proposed for our hearts, I think, is this: Is there some small thing in which I may be faithful today—some letting-go, some sharing, some care for another?  Is there some act of compassion by which I may begin to get free of the possessions which possess me?  How may I begin, this day, to use my possessions—God’s gifts to me—for the sake of building God’s kingdom now and sharing in it with all God’s friends forever?

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  1. Ruth West on September 22, 2014 at 12:11

    Br. Jonathan, this is a good sermon, short and to the point. In my growing up years I always thought mammon meant the devil. Of course, now that I know the meaning, it is not so far-fetched from that first incorrect meaning. For if we serve our possessions, it is serving evil rather than good.
    Thanks. God bless you.

  2. Mary AnnRyan on September 22, 2014 at 11:23

    Thank you Brother Jonathan on this reflection on our relationship to our possessions. Your timing is perfect. We are preparing for a clothing drive with a neighbor church to which many (last year more than 150) neighbors come to replenish their wardrobes. It is time for me to let go of, to share, possessions I have been holding on to, not because I need them, but because I like them.

  3. Polly Chatfield on September 22, 2014 at 09:36

    Thank you, Jonathan, for the reminder that the cleansing and restoration of our hearts begins small, very small, with just a single act of giving away, letting go. One can repeat single acts until they become a habit, a habit of blessing hard to break.

  4. Mino Sullivan on September 22, 2014 at 09:09

    Thank you Jonathan!

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