The gospel for today (Luke 16:1-13) is a complex passage with countless interpretations. It is a strange parable that has stumped biblical interpreters throughout history. Perhaps it is a Robin Hood story about class and unjust economic structures? Perhaps it is a comment on the nature of God’s tent home verses earthly homes? What can’t be denied is that Jesus talks about money and this passage has us talking about money too. This is not to be hushed up, whispered about and kept to people’s private lives. Economics, finances and wealth are topics of faith. In a conversation with a woman who is a financial planner and advisor she made the observation that the more money people have the more concerned they are about keeping it. Here Jesus suggests that wealth does not provide the security or stability we seek.
What is certain about the parable is that it is a comment on the culture of the time. First-century culture was organized and orchestrated by strict social rules. The rules of reciprocal hospitality were in no way optional. Rather they were the supporting ligaments that bound together status and honour, safeguarding roles and responsibilities through right relationships. The dishonest manager has no doubts that he will be able to collect on the favours owed him when the time comes. He will get by, despite his looming unemployment, because he knows how to work the system, or in the more contemporary terms of network, because he knows how to make the net work.
Jesus doesn’t admire the thorns that bar the manager’s dubious situation. Neither does Jesus concern himself with the man’s self-serving character. What Jesus focuses on is the fruit that results from the manager’s shrewdness (machinations?). Jesus sees a man unafraid to push the accepted limits in order to bring about a needed change. And he sees in this shrewdness something that his disciples might well learn from.
Let us serve God through all our lives – our gifts and skills, time, talents, resources and money. Let us be faithful guardians of that which God has given.
I am aware that sometimes it seems that our children and grandchildren care nothing for our hard earned wisdom. It sometimes seems that they are not willing to listen and so we feel that our efforts to impart what we have learned seems pointless. The following was posted on a blog 21st Nov 2013 as a reminder that we should not despair.
Dear G: Will it even make a difference? It feels like the world is so mean and sometimes I feel like teaching my kids about kindness is just a losing battle.
Dear Friend: Chase brought this home yesterday. His teacher asked him to write an essay about “tolerance.” This is what he came up with – all by himself. I think it does. I think teaching kindness makes a difference. Don’t give up. G
No Matter What
By: Chase M, age 10
Tolerance is one of the Laws of Life. It is any community’s foundation, what it is built upon. You can have tolerance for the homeless, neglected animals or someone who you don’t think wears the right clothes or has the right hair. But I believe in the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m going to give you an example of this. Say a group of preteen kids is out on the playground laughing, playing and simply having an all-around good time. A little boy with a special need like autism or ADHD or Down Syndrome or something else walks up to them and shyly but bravely asks if he can play. The “leader” or oldest in the group says no way and proceeds to make fun of the little boy and push him away. Now, let’s reverse from here right to the part when the older boy is making fun of the little boy. First of all, I absolutely HATE when kids are made fun of by other kids, especially older kids.
I think and know that making fun of someone who might have a condition that might make them look a bit different than most kids and that THEY CAN’T HELP (emphasis on those three words) is just as stupid as making fun of them for their gender or the colour of their skin. It is proven that the entire human race has an instinct inside of them to either remove themselves from a bullying situation or to support the bully to make themselves feel higher or better than the other kid. Well, to that I say BOO, and it doesn’t have to be that way. You have the power to make a decision bigger than your mere instincts. You have the capability to be a hero and step outside off your own comfort zone to stop bullying in your community. We can do this. One by one, community-by-community, upstander by upstander- (don’t stand by stand UP!) we can help kids nationwide. With everyone helping, it is possible. So step outside of your comfort zone, break your little instinct shell surrounding you, and make a change.
TODAY, NO MATTER WHAT!