This Week's Gospel (Luke 16:1-13)


#1

Hi, don’t be confused about Luke 16:1-13. When Jesus tells the story about the master who commends the steward for his dishonest cleverness, Jesus isn’t saying that the master was right to commend him. Jesus is saying that both the master and steward are typical of people of the world (not of the light) so that even the master commends dishonesty. Kind of like a dishonest owner of a business who commends one of his dishonest salesman (even though he’s about to fire him in this parable). That’s all it is. I think people get confused because Jesus tells some other parable(s) where the “master” is a metaphor for God, but that’s not the case in this parable. :slight_smile:


#2

This Scripture passage can be confusing and there are different interpretations.


#3

Yes, it appears it confuses many…because the Master IS God in the parable.


#4

Luke 16:8: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation…”

Children of this world (as opposed to the children of light) refers to both the master (who commended dishonesty) and the steward who perpetrated it. Therefore, the term “master” is not a metaphor for God (in this particular parable). In fact, that’s one of the reasons this parable might initially be confused by the hearer, because we readily associate (presume) “master” with God (as in other parables). Also, we see that the master says he wants an accounting which is something that also is often associated with God and that passage may in an indirect way be a reminder that we account to God, but nonetheless, the master is not a metaphor for God in this parable. :slight_smile:

Perhaps we can see this even more clearly if we think about why the master commended the dishonest steward. He commended him because the master in this parable is a child of this world whose own “master” is mammon, so he respects money and even dealing with it dishonestly. Refer to Jesus words of explanation about not being able to serve two masters.


#5

Is your take on this the only possible correct one?

haydock1859.tripod.com/id80.html


#6

Yet another part of this Gospel section that must be understood properly is when Jesus teaches to make friends with dishonest wealth.

One might think that Jesus is condoning what the steward did and so therefore the master in the parable refers to God, but again, not so. The USCCB commentary explains that Luke gathered some originally independent sayings of Jesus here after the parable. :slight_smile:
usccb.org/bible/luke/16

When Jesus teaches to make friends with dishonest wealth, He is basically teaching to give/share it, since one has no right to it anyway. For someone who has gained much wealth cheating people for decades and repents, it might be impossible to do the best thing and return to all rightful owners, but at least one could let go of it and give alms. :slight_smile:


#7

Your link is very helpful - thanks and what I have been saying here agrees with it.

After all, the main point of the parable is the attitude that the master (the “rich man”) and the steward had towards mammon and even dealing dishonestly with it. Even what may appear to have some aspect of good because he gave some people a discount was done for wordly reasons and was dishonest (unless you subscribe to the “his commission” argument which still doesn’t change the main theme and in fact doesn’t seem to fit with Jesus’ telling about how the rich man commended the “dishonest” steward). They both had the wrong attitude towards mammon and worldly security.

Also how often is the “rich man” in Jesus’ parables the good guy (let alone a metaphor for God)? :slight_smile:


#8

It is a challenging parable. I believe the key to parable is in verses 8-9.

8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

I think the overall message is to be shrewd and wise. If those who are worldly and dishonest like this manager are shrewd, we must be shrewd as well. We should use our (honest) worldly wealth in order to further God’s kingdom. We should learn from the shrewd behavior, but not from the dishonesty.

The passage goes on to condemn dishonest behavior:
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

There are certainly other points to be learned from this, but I think that the message to be shrewd with money/resources is one of the key messages to be gleaned from this.


#9

Nice, especially if we consider that Christian “shrewdness” is not worldly shrewdess since Christian “shrewdness” is based on the ultimate “cleverness” of faith in Jesus (which is why I mentioned that the steward was basing his tactics on worldly security instead of heavenly security).


#10

Ahh… don’t be quite so hasty! The word translated ‘master’ here is really Kyrios, or “Lord”.

As if that weren’t bad enough:

Perhaps we can see this even more clearly if we think about why the master commended the dishonest steward.

Perhaps we need to ask the question “who is the ‘master’ who is commending the steward?” Is it the ‘kyrios’ in the story? Or is it Jesus, our Kyrios, who has finished telling the parable and has begun providing commentary?

Whichever answer you give, you’ll need to justify it. Why do you answer in the way you have?

(It’s not quite as cut-and-dried as you’re making it out to be… :wink: )


#11

Be careful here – you want to exegete the text in its original Greek, and not an English translation…

The Greek phrase translated “dishonest wealth” is really μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας, which is literally “the mammon of injustice.” In the context of Jesus’ hearers, “mammon” would have had the connotation of “the thing that you place all your trust in”, and if God is ‘justice’ itself, then the implication here is clear: Jesus is telling His listeners to become well acquainted with the methods of those who place their trust in something other than God (i.e., money). By watching how they manage their financial affairs shrewdly, we can learn a valuable lesson – the lesson of how one who is fully dedicated to a cause conducts his affairs. ‘Money’ is the “very small matter” Jesus uses as an example, in His attempt to teach us about ‘salvation’, which is the “great one.”

One might think that Jesus is condoning what the steward did

As others have mentioned, there are a variety of ways to understand this parable; the more compelling require us to understand the role of the ‘household manager’ in 1st century Palestine and invite us to recognize that the steward is shrewd more than crooked. :wink:

When Jesus teaches to make friends with dishonest wealth, He is basically teaching to give/share it, since one has no right to it anyway.

That’s one interpretation. It doesn’t work perfectly well, though, since it doesn’t match the narrative of the parable. The steward doesn’t “give/share his wealth, since he doesn’t have a right to it”. Rather, he gives it away in order that he might get more of it down the road in a subsequent job.


#12

This is one interpretation that is encountered often. However, I’m not sure it works. To begin with, it relies on the notion of “honest worldly wealth”. There’s absolutely no mention of “honest worldly wealth” here. Secondly, there’s no notion of “furthering God’s kingdom” here. Rather, all that’s mentioned is “eternal dwellings” as reward (not as ‘object of human work’). The result is an interpretation that sounds good (and Christian-esque) on the surface… but is filled with eisegesis. :shrug:

We should learn from the shrewd behavior

Agreed. But, we’re being called to apply it in the context of Christian discipleship, not in the context of money management.

There are certainly other points to be learned from this, but I think that the message to be shrewd with money/resources is one of the key messages to be gleaned from this.

No. This is explicitly not the message! Read a little further in the chapter and see what the reaction is from those “who love money”. If Jesus was merely saying “be shrewd with your money!”, then the Pharisees would have enthusiastically agreed with him! After all, that’s precisely what their worldview was! They wanted folks to apply the Law in order to cause the Kingdom of God to arrive! Being shrewd with money – through actions like ‘qorban’ – is in their wheelhouse!

But, Jesus isn’t advising people to be shrewd money managers, and therefore, the Pharisees who hear this parable sneer at Him. It’s their reaction that demonstrates that “be shrewd with your money” isn’t Jesus’ point in the least… :shrug:


#13

Well, Catholicism doesn’t condone cheating others and/or dishonesty. The steward was trying to “take care of number one” (as they say) without regard to consulting his boss. He was already fired so he didn’t care.

So we know there can’t be a condoning of dishonesty. Making friends with dishonest wealth cannot be interpreted in any way to condone cheating/dishonesty/stealing even if for a good purpose. As St. Paul says we can’t do evil so that good can come from it. So to me that leaves very little wiggle room for interpreting making friends with dishonest wealth. Also, as I mentioned, the USCCB commentary states the other independent teachings were grouped after the parable by Luke, (presumably because they related to attitudes toward wealth) so the “dishonest wealth” might appear to be more in context with the parable than it really is. :shrug:

Lively interesting discussion. :slight_smile:


closed #14

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.