This is a peculiar parable. Why is it that we find Jesus at the end praising a dishonest person? What is there about the actions of the crooked steward that Jesus finds good and invites us to imitate? To answer this question we have to be sure that we understand the parable correctly. The manager was certainly dishonest. But it is important that we understand correctly what his actions were, once his dishonesty had been found out.
Worship as Power
A Question of Generosity
Use money to win you friends. A clear message in the gospels: Renunciation. The gospel of this Sunday took a lot of effort to prepare a sermon on. For one, this is one of the repeated themes in the gospels:. So, one thing comes out clear to me: Jesus consistently warns us against hording up earthly wealth. Nowhere in the gospels, does Jesus praise material wealth as a blessing, nor does he promise some sort of earthly reward for being faithful. Therefore, this is the first point of my reflection: as Christians we cannot simply justify our desire for wealth with the best of intentions. It is quite straight forward. So why a homily?
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This beautiful homily builds and builds to the most wonderful conclusion. One is our point of view. A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. And here, all of a sudden, we have another problem. It seems that the rich man is praising a dishonest man and, instead of apologising, he says everybody should be this way. He has been in charge of all the financing of the various debts. And now he will no longer have it. And he calls all the debtors in and he starts giving them wonderful bargains: ten thousand bottles of oil, all this kind of way. If he fires the steward and then calls the police and has him thrown in jail, the people are going to be very unhappy. Do you remember the Prodigal Son?
Material possessions have no moral value attached to them but the acquisition and use of them have moral characters; that is, material things are useful but they cannot be said to be good or bad because they are inanimate objects. It is the manner in which they are acquired and in which they are used that can be said to be good or bad. In the first reading, Prophet Amos condemned the attitude of the rich who see their wealth as weapon for oppression and humiliation.