THE WEEK OF TRINITY IX – SUNDAY
LESSON: LUKE 16:1-9
He who trusts in his riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
In this Gospel, “mammon” means surplus sustenance, including money, with which one can help others without injury to oneself. It is called “unrighteous mammon” by our Lord because of its daily use for unrighteous purposes and because it incites men to all kinds of unrighteousness.
“Mammon” is also God’s creation, like wine and corn, and God’s creatures are good. But men can misuse God’s good creatures and can fall into much sin in acquiring them. St. Paul tells the Ephesians that they should make the most of the time “because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). The “time” or “the days” are not evil in themselves, but much evil occurs during these days or this time.
Similarly, he speaks in Romans of “the day of wrath” (Romans 2:5), although the “day” in itself is quite good. But because God’s “wrath” will be manifested on this day, it derives its name from this fact. So also, because “mammon” is used for all kinds of unrighteous ends, Christ here call it “unrighteous mammon.” It is surplus sustenance which we should use to relieve the needs of our neighbor and to help him. If we do not use it for this purpose, it becomes “unrighteous mammon” for us; we possess it unjustly, and it is stolen in God’s sight.
Before God we are in duty bound to give, to lend, and even to let men take what we have. According to the common proverb, the biggest moneybags are the greatest thieves. They have the biggest surplus and give away the least.
SL 11:1447 (2-4)
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, may the good gifts of Your creation never become a snare to us nor incite us to all sorts of acts of unrighteousness, either in sins of omission or sins of commission. Grant us grace to use these gifts for our own welfare and the sustenance of our neighbor, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:291-301.