The reading from the Book of Amos is about people who are cheaters, people who are taking life instead of giving it.
God is watching these merchants, who are getting ready to open their stores. They have decided to cheat their customers. They are there to get as much out of people as they can and to give back as little as possible.
God sees human beings cheating or using or taking advantage of other human beings. God says, “I will never forget one thing you have done.”
God is ultimate justice. That’s why God has asked us not to judge. Judging is God’s job and God is always judging. Nobody gets away with anything. God is kind and merciful. But that doesn’t mean God is weak and uncommitted.
Jesus’ parable has the same theme. We see someone who is basically cheating the boss. In the parable, the boss or the master represents God.
God has a steward who is supposed to take care of the work. God has a steward who is supposed to perform the duties he has promised to perform. Instead the steward is cheating.
What happens next is interesting. The cheater, as he’s taking from his master, loses everything. Well I’m not going to dig ditches or cut grass or anything difficult like that so I’d better get to work.
What the steward does then is to put on a forgiving disposition. He forgives other people their debts. He reduces and forgives debt owed to his master so that he gains favor with others.
It is this image of forgiveness that we are called to grasp. Forgiveness is a way of loving this is simply generous and giving to others no matter who they are or what they’ve done.
This is the image of love we see in the gospel. Jesus is always writing off debts. Jesus is always giving people another chance to be transformed. Jesus is always forgiving wrongs.
The steward is very two-faced. One the one hand he is a cheater. But on the other hand he is acting in a loving and forgiving way when it suits him. That’s the whole “two masters” thing. We can’t have it both ways.
We can’t have a religious life over here where we are really nice and loving and forgiving and another life over there where we are a liar and a cheat. That’s the very definition of schizophrenia.
The steward in the gospel parable is a cheat and as a result he has lost everything. He has taken upon himself a different disposition and hopefully it will change the direction of his life.