In today’s world, many people commit dishonesty in order to advance themselves in their careers, jobs and businesses. They live as if the world is the end of it all, maybe they’re not sure whether this one is a temporary journey, but maybe also blinded by the present’s BDOs (“bright, dazzling objects”). They’re supported by the prevailing culture of greed, covetousness and avarice. We praise the rich and stay away from the poor. We notice wealth but disregard simplicity. We applaud the loud and ignore the meek and the silent. In all, we encourage the display of wealth as the be-all and end-all in this world.
In this Sunday’s Gospel proclamation (Lk. 16: 1-13), Jesus tells about a rich man’s steward, who was squandering his property. The rich man summoned the hand to prepare a full account of his stewardship. The steward thought of doing something so that when he is removed from the stewardship, “they may welcome me into their homes”. He called in his master’s debtors one by one and lessened what the debtors owe to the master; for example, from one hundred measures of olive oil to fifty, from one hundred kors (an ancient Hebrew and Phoenician measure of capacity) of wheat, to eighty. While the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently, he didn’t approve of his dishonesty.
Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. This is one principle that should be taught beginning at home and even before one goes to school. Once this value is taken in by a child, coupled with reminders and discussions by parents, most probably this will be carried on into adulthood. Sadly, this is not one of those consistently practiced, in fact this is one of the reasons for many of the world’s problems today.
Jesus said, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?”
Being a person of integrity requires internal strength and mindfulness. It is one that is fortified by continued practice, self-reminder and thoughtfulness. It involves fear “that arises, not from the thought of hell, but from sentiments of reverence and filial submission to our Heavenly Father”. Committing dishonesty therefore is dreaded, knowing that God knows our every thought and deed, and so we give Him our priority in difficult situations, fearful that doing something else could separate us from God.
In the First Reading (Am. 8: 4-7), the prophet Amos lamented on the sins against the poor including cheating and dishonesty. As it was in those times, it still is in these present times. But there’s hope, if we live and model simplicity, hard work and giving quiet service to God and His people.
Let us pray to the Spirit for guidance, strength and perseverance in our earthly journey. We pray for sobriety, simplicity and serious-mindedness in our faith. We also pray for peace, healing, and protection.
“Though our Lord Jesus Christ was rich, He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8: 9)