Twenty-fifth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C
Reflecting on Luke 16:1-13
Hi everybody. It’s me, Jesus. Sorry about that parable today. I know, all of you who own your own businesses want to know why it’s okay for that steward to cheat his boss like that. Here’s the thing: if you had lived in the Middle East in the First Century you would have laughed and applauded my brilliance when I spoke that parable.
My prophet Amos had it so right. I love that part where he called out those vendors and merchants for the religious hypocrites they were. Sure! Hurry up and get these religious observances over so we can start cheating the poor and trampling on the needy. See, that’s what I was getting at in my story all those years later. It takes a lot of energy and cunning to steal and exploit people. (These days I’m especially thinking about the murderous drug cartels in my beautiful, Catholic Mexico. And all the drug abusers north of the border who keep them in business.)
See, the steward was stealing from his master, and when he knew he was getting fired he used the same cunning to start making friends with the very people he’d been cheating for years. Think how much hard work it took for them to pay the master in all that olive oil and wheat, and he was taking a huge chunk off the top! So he canceled out his huge commission, which made their debts so much less. It was like he knew he was on a sinking ship and he decided to give all his stuff away to the guys manning the lifeboats. Now that’s smart!
So, the moral is: make friends with the poor, the beloved of my Father. Look at me. I was so poor I was buried in a tomb that belonged to somebody else. No problem. I knew I wouldn’t be staying long. And you’re not long for the grave either, every one of you who loves me and recognizes me, as Mother Teresa said, in my distressing disguise of the poor.
Of course she’s here. Where else would she be? You should have seen all her friends up here opening those gates when they heard she was coming. Happy 100th birthday, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
Sharing God’s Word at Home:
What energies are you harnessing to do good?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Hey, is anybody out there? Did you not like the column, or just didn’t like the Gospel this Sunday enough to remark on it?
Becky is having problems logging on, but she sent this funny and deep insight:
See, it is true the steward was dishonest, but so were the people he was dealing with. No one said “Oh well, no thanks, that’s wrong” or even reported it to the master. But our master needs no report, He knows us and try as we may we can’t pull a fast one on Him. Love you, Becky
When I think about this Gospel, I remember that Jesus told many parables to get peoples attention. Make friends with the poor, what a concept! Even today how many times do we walk by without a look, do we think that if we don’t make eye contact with the beggar we can forget that he’s there?
Maybe I don’t want to think about hunger or homelessness, so if I don’t recognize their presence I don’t have to think about these scary things.
I’ve been told by many good people, “don’t give him money, he’ll just go drink it”.
How many blessings has my Lord given to me and does he say, “I am giving you this Donna, only if you do what I want you to”. No, he gives to me unconditionally, he loves me in my sinfulness and in my brokenness!
The poor have much to teach us, if only we show them dignity
and they almost always respond “God Bless you”.
God Bless you!
Didn’t like you column? Perish the thought!
This parable has always been a challenge for me, and I’ve never felt like I had a handle on the message. It seems to reward self-interest more than anything else, or so I always thought. But after reading several of the commentaries from the links on your site and then re-reading your reflection, I finally have a better feeling about it. His actions actually brought some relief to the debtors, the poor he had been exploiting. Make friends with the poor, as you said. And Donna, what a sensitive commentary you wrote.
Maybe some of my resistance to this gospel is tied to my inability to answer unequivocally Kathy’s question about what I’m doing to harness my energies to do good. Maybe too many of my efforts are focused on my own good, on my wants. Thank you for the reminder to direct my energies to doing good to those who cross my path each day, and those who fall beneath my notice.
I, along with Michael, find this parable challenging. It seems the steward is considered prudent in his actions to save his hide in the future, rather than focusing on doing good for the needy. While his actions did have the consequence of providing some relief to the debtors, they were cunning and calculating in nature. Maybe it’s Jesus’ way of telling us that no matter how much we cheat him of our loyalty, we will be forgiven even if our retribution is provoked merely by self interest. Gosh, if the steward had only acknowledged some sorrow and regret for the pain caused to the poor in the past I would have found the parable to have a better message. Answering the question was equally difficult as then I had to contemplate the measure of my energy these days! Does it count that I stopped to pick up a dog in the middle of the road, found him to still be alive, and despite my fatigue drove him to an emergency clinic, waiting around to be sure he would survive?
I had a difficult time with the question, “What energies are you harnessing to do good?” I cannot couch my response in positive terms. I tried to turn it around, but I found that I wasn’t able to see it from a different perspective.
Whenever I harness my limited energy to do good, people take advantage of me by expecting more than I am able to give. When I explain that my energy is limited by chronic illness (a fact of which most of them are well aware), they get angry as if I am rejecting them.
We live in an extremely self-absorbed society, where other people look at us in terms of what we can do for them, with no consideration of what they might do for others. Takers are abundant. Givers are abused. No matter how well we model generosity, there are people who are just waiting in the wings to take rather than give. In order to do good for others, we must guard against abuses of our generosity.
P.S. And isn’t that a shame?
Yes, Brebis, it is. But, all we can give is what we have. No more, no less. And, that is enough in the eyes of our loving God. Blessings.
When I read this Gospel, I tend to focus on the fact that the Steward had a choice. He could have chosen to continue to charge his “surcharge” for the debtors. But instead he chose to be “trustworthy” and as a result made friends with the debtors. He had a conversion of sorts, even if it was motivated by the fact that he would soon be fired and needed some friends. I am always left wondering what becomes of this steward. Do the debtors take him in and befriend him? Do they now see him as trustworthy? Does his conversion experience in this portion of his life have further reaching effects?
Like Michael Carlos, I struggle to answer the question Kathy poses. What energies am I harnessing? Even though at times, I feel that my energy is set on “low”, I think of Christ and how tired he must have been trying to set aside time to go apart to pray and yet when the crowds followed him, he ministered to them. So, I feel that regardless of my own take on my energy level, I should be doing more because that’s what our Lord did. That’s what Blessed Mother Theresa did too…emptied herself in service to others. My answer then is, “I’m getting there one baby step at a time, striving always to give more” I pray that my efforts will be pleasing to God.
This subject has turned into great Conversations!
To Brebis, I would like to say like leehemminger,it’s true there are people out there who take advantage of “the givers” of the world. Jesus told us this would happen, and we can only do what we can do.
This Gospel also teaches us to be prudent. Live simplier lives dependent on fewer material things.
The energies I am harnessing? I am trying to teach those who are searching for God in their lives. I have had such great teachers in my life (Kathy, Ben).
Like Mamidecinco wonderfully stated, “one baby step at a time”
I couldn’t let Lee’s question go unanswered. Yes, it absolutely counts! It’s our time and energy that is most limited and precious, and sacrificing them for any of God’s creatures instead of our own comfort is doing good!
What thoughtful and brave submissions this week. You know, I am lucky enough to actually know all the contributors this week. I am struck with the irony of the anxieties expressed here about possibly not harnessing enough energy for good. Why is it that God’s great ambassadors are always the ones who feel unworthy, and are always on the lookout for more ways to do good?
I am inspired and challenged by each of you. Thank you for your contributions.