Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 489. Philippians 3:17-4:1. Psalm 122:1-2.3-4. 4-5.
Most people are shocked when they hear this parable. Several parables do
this to us who live in a different epoch and who have different customs
that would certainly have shocked the people of Jesus’ time! Here we need
to remember that the context of the entire chapter 16 needs to be kept in
mind. Jesus is teaching about how to use one possessions not only for self
but for the poor and the needy. Jesus is not condoning the action of the
steward; he is using him as an example of how a righteous person should not
be naive in reading the signs of the times. One needs to be astute when it
comes to dealing with financial issues both as a country, a city, and as a
family. We are slowly learning the need for this during the present
economic and financial crisis that affects all of us in some ways.
By looking at the parable a second time we start to get some insights into
what Jesus is teaching us on this long journey to Jerusalem. We remember
how his culture is fond of clever examples, some may even be shocking, in
order to make a point about a principle that may help us in difficult
choices and decisions. If one reads the commentaries on this parable one
easily sees that none of the commentators seem to satisfy our sense of
justice. We tend to see Jesus as being devious and non-ethical in this
teaching. He is not, of course. There is something to be learned from it.
It is a practical story that helps jar one who may be too ignorant of the
ways of the world. Simplicity of life is not naivete. How we help the
poor is at stake in this story and chapter of Luke. Luke chose it from the
sayings of Jesus to fit his concern for the way rich Christians should
interact and help those who are poor.
Jesus and Luke are trying to help us understand their concern for the
marginal, poor, and lonely ones. Luke is guiding us through this with
examples and actions that Jesus is giving to us on our journey of learning
what discipleship is all about. Dianne Bergant helps us to unravel the
parable in a way the will make us understand the situation. She states, ”
It is clear that the steward has violated customary law.It was his duty to
advance his employer’s position by enhancing his financial holdings.
Instead, he reduced them for his own benefit. Despite this, the master of
the household, not Jesus commends him for acting shrewdly (from phronesis,
the word for practical wisdom). Jesus seems to step back from this
particular incident and use it to draw a religious conclusion: children of
this age (or children of the world) have more practical wisdom than do
children of light.” ( Preaching the New Lectionary (C cycle), p. 365).
Jesus is calling us to be wise, prudent, and astute in how to discover ways
of sharing our wealth with others. We are not to serve both God and money.
No one can be divided that way. Matthew has given us another insight into
understanding this parable as well in Matthew 6:24 which concerns our
relationship to God and our relationship to money. “No one can serve two
masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one
and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (An Aramaic word
which means wealth, money, or property). Blessed are the astute and wise
who are poor in spirit. Amen.