(Vatican Radio) Parents who feed their children on “unclean bread”, earned through bribes and corruption, are starving their children of dignity, because dishonest work robs us of our dignity. These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass on Friday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta.
Pope Francis focused his homily on the parable of the dishonest steward, in order to talk about the dangers “of worldliness, of mundane affairs”. Jesus “prayed to the Father that his disciples might not fall into the trap of worldliness”, which is “the enemy”.
“When we think of our enemies, we really think of the devil first, because it’s the devil that harms us. The devil enjoys the atmosphere, the lifestyle of worldliness. And this steward is an example of worldliness. Some of you might say: “But this man only did what everyone does!”. But no, not everyone! Some company administrators, some public administrators, some government administrators… perhaps there are not even very many. But it’s that attitude of the shortcut, of the most comfortable way to earn a living.”
In the parable, the master praises the dishonest steward for his cunning. “This is praise for bribes! And the habit of bribes is a mundane and extremely sinful habit. It’s a habit that does not come from God: God has commanded us to bring bread home through our own honest work! And this man, this steward, he brought bread home, but how? He fed his children unclean bread! And his children – perhaps educated in expensive colleges, perhaps raised in learned environments – were fed dirt by their father, because their father, by bringing home unclean bread, had lost his dignity! And this is a grave sin. Because we might start with a small bribe, but it’s like a drug!”
So, Pope Francis affirmed, we become dependent on the habit of bribes. But if there is a “mundane cunning”, the Pope continued, there is also a “Christian cunning, of doing things not in the spirit of worldliness”, but of honesty. That’s what Jesus says when he asks us to be cunning as serpents and simple as doves: being able to combine the two “is grace from the Holy Spirit”, a gift which we must ask for.
Pope Francis concluded with a prayer. “Perhaps it will be good for us all today to pray for the many children and young people who are fed unclean bread by their parents: they are hungry too, they are starved of dignity! Let us pray that the Lord may change the hearts of these people who are faithful to the goddess of bribes. Let them realise that dignity comes from dignified work, from honest work, from daily work, and not from these shortcuts. And let us conclude by thinking about that other man in the Gospel who had a lot of granaries, a lot of silos, so full that he didn’t know what to do with them, and the Lord said to him: “You must die tonight”. These poor people who have lost their dignity in the habit of bribes take with them not the money they have earned, but only their lack of dignity! Let us pray for them!”