Making friends with dishonest wealth. Really?


Gospel Lk 16:9-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

After reading another post on this passage, it seems to me that Jesus means the methods and strategies that people with dishonest wealth use.
Since we are not allowed to commit evil to bring about good, we must therefore use them in a just way.

Give me some clues to what it means


I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
(Luke 16:9 NAB)

Hey, everyone. I find this passage of the Bible to be so confusing. It was from the readings for Saturday, November 5th. Can someone please explain this? Why would Jesus tell us to make friends for ourselves with dishonest wealth? I am so confused by this.


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 9. Make for yourselves friends, &c. Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbour, to give to the poor: evil is never to be done, that good may come from it. (St. Thomas Aquinas) — But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God, by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly celestial and spiritual. (St. Augustine, de quæst. Evang.) — Of the mammon of iniquity. Mammon is a Syriac word for riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity. Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity, not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices. (Witham) — Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten, ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian. — They may receive. By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter, by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven. (Challoner) — They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles. What a beautiful thought this! What a consolation to the rich man, when the term of his mortal existence is approaching, to think he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among the poor by relieving their temporal wants. The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal and infinite happiness. Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives. (Haydock)


It’s a passage that calls for careful reading, without a doubt!

It was the Gospel two months ago, in the 25th week in Ordinary Time. When it came up, it was asked as a question here (as usual!). You might want to read the thread that asked the same questions that you’re asking.

Hope this helps…!



Those who value wealth above all else are single-minded in pursuit of what they consider to be most important. How much more should we – who profess to hold eternal life to be our most important goal – be single-minded in our pursuit of heavenly rewards?

“Make friends with dishonest wealth” – or, phrased another way, become acquainted with their single-minded devotion to the pursuit of earthly wealth – so that, if we learn the lesson of complete focus on the goal, we might attain our goal of citizenship in heaven.


Ha! You bet me to it! :thumbsup:


This is the Original Poster.

I mentioned that I had read another post on this same question.
I stopped reading because people were posting long quotes from commentaries.

I was looking for snappy answers to difficult questions

I still am looking.

I teach adult sacraments. At first I and my teaching team were teaching in a long and complicated way to the candidates. Teachers love to learn and study the main points, the supporting evidence both large and small and the exceptions and oppositions to these points.

My candidates wanted doctrinal points with the simple, clear, precise and engaging supporting evidence. They wanted fast food. I was giving them a banquet. They wanted a Bishop Baron and a Catholic Answers Live! answer. I was giving them a speech.

So could someone in the forums give a two or three line summary of a long analysis?
I sure would appreciate this effort.


Post #5 does just that.
Nothing else posted was terribly complicated though. :confused:

Sometimes Catechesis is not served by “snappy answers” though.
This is something that takes discussion and reflection. As most of Scripture does.


I sort of don’t understand this. You’re the teacher, right? They’re the students. . .

If I were teaching geometry and my students said, “Hey, all these theories are too complicated, just give us simple arithmetic”, and you did that, they wouldn’t be learning geometry, would they?

Now if they came to your geometry class and they hadn’t mastered the elements of basic math, that would be another story. You could, in that case, make sure they were solid (no pun intended) on that first, and then go ON to teach geometry (the class they need and had signed up for).

I guess what I want to know is, after you give your students the ‘fast food’ answers, do you then say, “OK, now that you know X, we need to move on, because this is not the whole answer, and you need to know ‘the rest of the story’ now?”


Tantum ergo

No. I teach the basics and enough support.
I discovered I needed to require my students to memorize the Sign of the Cross, the Glory Be,
the Our Father, the Hail Mary etc. and a few more because they didn’t know them to my shock. Adults!

Catechesis is different from when we were children. I teach in a multicultural environment. I meet the students where they are at and give them the basics. That’s enough to prime the pump. I trust the Holy Spirit to fill in the rest.



There’s something missing in the discussion.

A Steward, back in those days, was not paid a salary. The steward was paid based on how well he would make business deals.

Example: Business deal #4, Employer wants 50 jars of oil. So the steward negotiates 80 jars of oil, and gives his boss the 50. He got to keep the rest, or split the difference, depending on agreement. That’s how the steward got paid.

So, when the boss terminated his employment, the steward’s wages were basically forfeit. Perhaps the boss was dishonest, wanting all the money instead of letting the steward get some. So, he knew that money was lost, so he rewrote the invoices, removing his cut of the action.

The “dishonest” wealth was the cut he was not getting anymore. He used that “dishonestly obtained wealth” (by the boss) to make friends. Hence, making friends of dishonest wealth.


Good illustration of the interpretive difficulties that can arise when cultural context is not understood.


Thanks for your clear and apt addition.


Bob, thank you very much! I always thought the steward he was buying entrée to friendships by deleting a part of their debt, in the many of debt negotiations companies settling a client’s debt for so many cents to the dollar. I could never understand why the boss would congratulate him so enthusiastically. Your explanation that the steward got paid on a percentage commission better explains it.


Me too.

The steward, despite being cheated out of his pay, still performed honestly and ethically - the rich man still got his contracts as agreed. So the boss gave him kudos for that.


That’s why we posted Haydock’s excellent commentary. It’s pretty clear.


This is the first time I heard a plausible explanation for this troublesome verse. Thank You! Can you share where did you come across this gem? Is this explanation proffered by any notable persons or Church Fathers?


Wasn’t my post but we have a priest who is also a scripture scholar and is familiar with the culture of that time.

Context is everything.


I heard it from Catholic radio, but I forgot what program (CAL? EWTN?).


I can see a slight problem with the commission cutting. If the steward did those deals, he would have known about the amount owing and the commissions he would have made. But he has to ask the debtors how much they owe which implies he is rather clueless about the state of affairs. How would he know how much of his commissions he could write down if he wasn’t up-to-date?

This is an ex-accountant talking.:slight_smile:

However, there is a possible work-around to this. The steward could have originally done those deals with set commission % for various items. However, he might not be current on the outstanding as the debtors could have paid off some (Of course he should have known how much of that is outstanding if he has been doing his job. But he didn’t and perhaps that’s why he got the boot. Or perhaps he longer has access to his accounts anymore. Just guessing).

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