Amos begins by telling us not to cheat the poor. Certain people had control of the scales. They set the scale so that they could cheat the poor and not pay full price. Amos also warns against stealing from those who have wealth. Never does sin justify itself or create something good. Sin is always sin. And we should not take advantage of those who are in need. These examples should be something we all understand but we know these sins still happen today. These examples are in direct conflict with the seventh commandment, you shall not steal.
In today’s gospel some scholars suggest that perhaps the steward worked for commissions. When the steward reduced the amount owed to his master, he was just removing his commission. A reasonable theory, but the gospel does not say that. Rather the master commends the steward for being a prudent businessperson.
The master is not making a moral judgment but a business judgment. Business judgments are worldly judgments. We are then to decide is what the steward did morally correct? We should take into consideration our daily worldly actions. Do these actions reflect the moral attitude of our hearts? Do we judge ourselves as we judge the steward?
The Catechism uses this parable for moral instruction. This teaching is founded on the seventh commandment you shall not steal. The catechism lists examples that we should know break the commandment, but we do them all the time.
For example, borrowing something from someone and not returning it. The catechism considers a sin when you do not return something you have borrowed, whether it be a tool or a sweater, you should return it cleaned and ready for use.
The catechism considers work poorly done as a sin. Or not doing your best when you are at work. You are stealing from your employer when you do not do the best you can.
Another example, willfully damaging public property. There are many forms of damaging public property. Graffiti is what most people think of, but it goes beyond that. Throwing garbage out of your car. Breaking something and not telling the authorities what broke.
As it is the seventh commandment, you shall not steal, stealing from someone who is wealthy, and you think they will not notice the missing items. This could be like stealing pens or notebooks from work.
What the steward did in the parable was not right. But the planning and thoughtfulness to put himself into a better position was prudent. It is this planning and thoughtfulness that we should use as our example to put ourselves into a better position to live moral lives.
There are many times each day we need to make moral decisions. Some are minor in nature; others are major decisions. All decisions affect our moral foundation. Have you ever heard someone say they said a little white lie? Since when do lies come in color? A lie is a lie. It is stealing the truth from someone. You have still a committed a sin.
It is true, you cannot serve two masters. I strongly suggest you follow the Lord.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen