The Price of Salvation


“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” Luke 16

the unjust steward

You say all the Church talks about is money!

Hebrews: “Keep your lives free from the love of money, be content with what you have.”

1 Timothy: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap into many foolish and harmful desires.”

“Whoever loves money never has enough.” Ecclesiastes.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” Proverbs.

Four quotes are enough isn’t it? Would the rich folks still want more?

I’m already tired and I’m getting paid to do this!

The worst or the best of all biblical references is, “forgive us our … debts, as we forgive our debtors; our trespasses. We’ll be saying that, as we do each Mass, later on in this Mass. Stay tuned.

Money. What we think about each and every day. Carry in our back pocket or around our shoulder or tightly held in our hand. (If it’s in your hand then a fancy designer name on the outside helps the crooks decide.)

The clever unjust steward’s name is never given. That’s why I’m here. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ reduced our “debt” to God through his life and death. As parents do for her children.

The Bible is full of warnings and admonitions about the thing we think about so much. The thing we save for so someday we can buy “that” thing.

Proverbs: “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”

Jesus ransomed (currency exchange) his life in exchange for our lives. That’s a trade made with immeasurable dividends. However, “there’s a penalty for early withdrawal.” In exchange for what Jesus did for us, he requires total gratitude to his Father. That’s called “church.” Not such a bad deal. There’s wonderful people you meet along the way to help you in need and celebrate with you in joyful times. There’s Bingo at some churches and fabulous fish fries at others.

St. Luke: “Then he said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” So it isn’t only money that can possess and preoccupy us.

Don’t think I’m preaching only to you. I live alone and have three TV’s!

A priest friend uses the image of “dance” to describe our relationship with God. We’re doing a two-step to often by-step God and God wants a joyful polka to dance us through life. (In 3/4 time.) The imagery of money is the one I like best. It’s the very most important thing of our lives to describe our lives so why not our salvation. Whether it’s the waiter when we hesitant to add one more dollar to their meager base pay or to the commitment that God asks of us each and every day.

Ransom: “Look God, I’ve done everything the Church asks of me, so You must know as well as I do that eternal life is mine.”

Bargain: “Look God, if you cure my child of cancer, I promise to do…” whatever that promise may be. (Promissory note, anyone?)

Exchange: “Look God, let’s talk about a trade…”

You get the idea. All the sentences begin and end with you know who.

Salvation is a gift – a freely given gift – no ransoming, bargaining or exchanging about it.

Our debts have been forgiven. All God asks is an equal response from us. We will fail … sometimes … we will succeed … sometimes. That’s the way of this human adventure.

There is absolutely no “quid pro quo” in this beautiful religious journey. “Something for something,” in which one transfer is contingent upon the other is shallow, selfish and so much like us all.

I never liked the judgement-at-the-end-of-life imagery thing because that speaks of a bartering between the Creator and the created. It’s born of fear, not love. And this is out of love. Jesus paid our debt, in full.

Only look in your back pocket or overpriced purse. Then look in your heart. Search your soul. Look at those around you. Please, give the waiter that extra dollar.

Matthew: “For where your treasure lies, there your heart will also be.”


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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