Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gospel Text for Sunday, September 19th

Luke 16:1-13

Jesus said to the disciples, "There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.' Then the manager said to himself, `What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.' So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he asked the first, `How much do you owe my master?' He answered, `A hundred jugs of olive oil.' He said to him, `Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.' Then he asked another, `And how much do you owe?' He replied, `A hundred containers of wheat.' He said to him, `Take your bill and make it eighty.' And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

"Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."


  1. A God who makes himself ridiculous by lifting up his robe and running pell mell down the road to greet the returning no-good-nick. A God who risks his family's livelihood by leaving the security of the flock to reclaim a stupid wanderer. A God who turns her house upside down to restore her precious collection. Now Jesus presents a God who allows God's mercy to be manipulated by a schemer. No matter how many guises I use to make myself unworthy before God, Jesus pictures a God who will to to any length to meet me, find me, accept me, join me!
    In the parable in today's text the dishonest manager bet everything – avoiding jail, his reputation in the community and his future livelihood – on the master's generosity. His scheme put the master in position to be hailed in the community for his generosity in reducing rents or to be resented by resending the gifts the manager had secured for the tenets and punishing their benefactor. Rather than take umbrage the God of Jesus smiles and says, “You got it!”
    It really is better to be in company with Jesus and the God of Jesus, and the questionable company they keep, than look for a god and community formed around supposed correctness.

  2. Luke 16.1-13

    I observe that first the master condemns the dishonest manager for mismanaging the master’s wealth and then he commends the manager for manipulating his wealth for the benefit of the master’s debtors. What’s going on here? This makes no sense to me as long as I focus on the manger’s behavior. But when I ask myself, “Who reaps the benefit from the dishonest manager’s behavior?” things begin to look a little different.

    I will presume, because that is all I can do given the details offered in the parable, that in some way the manager benefited from squandering his rich master’s property. Acting thus to benefit him self, the manager was condemned by his master. In contrast, when the manager summoned “his master’s debtors,” and relieved a portion of each of their debt, he acted to benefit people who were indebted to a rich man. Isn’t this precisely what Jesus has been preaching?

    Jesus’ message has been, sell all of your possessions, your riches, and give alms to the poor. Perhaps Jesus really didn’t care if the manager sold his riches or some one else’s. The point is, relieving debt and rectifying economic disparity is commendable. The manager was indeed shrewd. In a wonderful twist of irony, by his shrewd dealings the manager turned around to serve God instead of wealth. Rather than accumulating and idolizing wealth, he has acted shrewdly to relieve the burden of others’ debt. By offering liberation he has allied him self with Jesus’ cause and secured a place for himself in God’s eternal kingdom.

    This just makes me smile. Blessed Jesus, Holy God, seems always able to make lemons out of lemonade.

    Now the question I must ask myself is, "What am I doing to help the 43.6 million Americans who are living in poverty today? How might I learn to be shrewd making friends with money?

    For am amazing story of the redistribution of wealth please see
    “The $600 billion challenge
    Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett are asking the nation's billionaires to pledge to give at least half their net worth to charity, in their lifetimes or at death. If their campaign succeeds, it could change the face of philanthropy”

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