Monday, September 16, 2013

Gospel text for Sunday 22 September 2013

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."
Reflection    Some say this is Jesus’ ‘hardest’ parable, by which I presume they mean, the most inscrutable. Most agree if you focus on the first part, the manager appears to be the hero but if you consider the entire text he seems more the villian. Good or bad, black or white, here we go again, locked into dualistic thinking. But is this the mind of Jesus? I don’t think so.
The thing about Jesus is he confounded the people of his time and continues to confound us because we are captives of our judgments, our dual thinking minds. Jesus refuses to allow us the simplicity of tying things up in neat little packages of right or wrong, good or evil. Jesus’ point of view, which we may well call the Mind of Christ, understands that we cannot grasp the infinite from our limited rational perspectives. So Jesus tells us stories that muddle our minds.... and that is a good place from which to start. We must admit, we do not ‘get it.’
Our habit of dual thinking is based on judgment, this is black or this is white, this is up or this is down. Nondual thinking, or the mind of Christ, understands that life explodes in countless shades of grey and that up or down makes no sense once we leave the tiny sphere of earth’s gravity and enter infinite space. Stretched beyond our small self perspective we realize that truth is a matter of perspective and no one person can be the judge of that. 
I believe Luke included this disjointed and incomprehensible series of statements at precisely this point in Jesus’ story intending to confound any of us who think we can grasp and package the mystery that is Jesus the Christ and the hidden wisdom of God’s kingdom. Our starting, middle and ending place needs to be, “I don’t know. It is not possible for me to grasp the unborn, undying, eternally present Presence.” That’s it; it is not all about me and what I do or do not like or judge to be so!
This means I set aside my desire to be right, to know, to be in control. This means I admit there are things I do not know. Recently a friend described his encounter with it this way. A wise teacher once asked him, ‘What percentage of all that is known about the world and the universe do you know?’” He responded, ‘Three percent.’ The teacher replied, ‘I believe that is generous, but I will give it to you. Now, in what will you find your life, the three percent you know or the ninety-seven percent you do not know?’ My friend gulped. He spent the next thrity odd years discovering the freedom of not knowing and not having to be right. 
What about the manager in Jesus’ story? I suspect he was a little bit hero and a little bit villian, a smathering of good and a dollop of evil and a whole lot more than I will ever know. Finally I can set this text aside and stop prodding myself to figure it out and tell you the truth about it. I don’t know.
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PS you can watch an amazing video of zero gravity at