.- During his daily Mass, Pope Francis cautioned those present to be aware the dangers of bribery, stating that those who are dishonest in their work deprive themselves of dignity.
"This man, this steward," said the Pope about the unjust steward from the day’s readings "he brought bread home, but how? He fed his children unclean bread!"
The pontiff centered the reflections of his Nov. 8 homily, given in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, on the servant in the Gospel of Luke who is accused of being dishonest, and so bribes his master in order not to be fired.
Warning of the dangers "of worldliness and mundane affairs," Pope Francis highlighted how Jesus "prayed to the Father that his disciples might not fall into the trap of worldliness," which he referred to as "the enemy."
"When we think of our enemies, we really think of the devil first, because it’s the devil that harms us," noted the Pope, adding that "the devil enjoys the atmosphere, the lifestyle of worldliness. And this steward is an example of worldliness."
"Some of you," he continued, "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."
Explaining how at the end of the parable the master praises the unjust steward for his cunningness, Pope Francis stressed that "This is praise for bribes! And the habit of bribes is a mundane and extremely sinful habit."
"It’s a habit," he emphasized, "that does not come from God: God has commanded us to bring bread home through our own honest work!"
The children who have eaten the "unclean bread" brought home by their father, and who were "perhaps educated in expensive colleges, perhaps raised in learned environments," observed the Pope, were actually "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!"
In this way we are able to become dependent on the habit of bribery, the Pope explained, revealing that on the contrary, if there is a "mundane cunning," there is also a "Christian cunning, of doing things not in the spirit of worldliness," but of truthfulness.
This is what Jesus means, explained the pontiff, when he tells his disciples to be as cunning as serpents, but as pure as doves, adding that the ability to merge the two "is grace from the Holy Spirit," and a gift that we must ask for.
Pope Francis concluded his reflections encouraging those present 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," he continued, "that the Lord may change the hearts of these people who are faithful to the goddess of bribes. Let them realize that dignity comes from dignified work, from honest work, from daily work, and not from these shortcuts."
Turning a final thought to the man in the Gospel who had stored up for himself many granaries and silos that were "so full that he didn’t know what to do with them," the Pope recalled how 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!"