of the Prodigal Son and the Dishonest Steward
for anything more than the fact that
they exist in his text side-by-side?"
Girardian Reflections on the Lectionary,
Proper 20, by Paul Nuechterlein & Friends.
16Then 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. 2So 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.’ 3Then 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. 4I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’ 7Then 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.’ 8And 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. 9And 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. 10“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. 11If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own? 13No 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.”
A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus online text: http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Luke+16:1-13&vnum=yes&version=nrsv
Textweek general resources: http://www.textweek.com/yearc/properc20.htm
Textweek resources for Luke’s Gospel this Sunday: http://www.textweek.com/mtlk/lk16a.htm
Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader’s thoughts:
Commentary by Chris Haslam
Some thoughts from Working Preacher:
Thoughts from the Rev. Clint Schnekloth, ELCA:
Great treasures website: http://greattreasures.org/gnt/main.do
Let the sincerity of our worship be matched by the dept of our commitment to justice. In a world where money rules supreme, may you alone be our master, and may we find our delight in serving each other.
From Prayers for Sunday and Seasons, Year C, Peter J. Scagnelli, LTP, 1992.
This Sunday’s lesson is directed not at the crowds who are following Jesus and not at his detractors but rather at his disciples. This is clearly a discussion with those who have already chosen to follow Jesus and are searching for an understanding of expectations and the work that lies before them.
Clarity in expectations is very important. However, I would venture to guess that most of lean on our forgiveness of such expectations more than we do live into the expectations of the reign of God. This is perhaps the reason why this Sunday’s Gospel is difficult to hear and difficult to preach.
As scholars point out there are a number of difficult issues. Luke Timothy Johnson lays before us a couple of issues to be dealt with:
1. Where does the parable end and the moral lesson begin?If we go back to the text and set these difficult textual and critical issues aside for a moment we might gain some clarity. So, reread the text, and lets begin again.
2. What is the nature of the steward’s action? Did he sacrifice something in his actions or is he continuing his same old dishonest ways?
3. Is this parable connected by a loose list of moral teachings or is there one overarching theme? (LTJ, Luke, 247)
We are to be stewards this is clear and a perennial theme throughout Jesus’ message, especially in the Gospel of Luke. This seems simple enough.
Jesus has turned his attention from the Pharisees and scribes to his disciples. Jesus seems to imply that the trouble with his detractors is the same with this steward – they have misused what is entrusted to them: the community of God.
Jesus offers then an understanding of what his followers should be doing. They should be proactively responsible and not squander. They should be proactive in lessening the burden of their neighbors.
When we hold on to, squander, or misuse what is given to us as God’s stewards in this world then we separate ourselves from God through the misuse of “mammon.”
If we give away, loosen the burden of others, care and tend what is given to us then we build up and strengthen our relationship with God and secure our place in the reign of God.
The other day I read a headline, “The earth does not care what we do with it.” This is true in a very real sense. The earth does not have feelings and in fact will regenerate itself if we wipe out civilization through human ineptitude. However, as Christians we understand that God does care. God does have expectations of us. I know these are human words to describe our relationship with God, but they are Jesus’ words. We are given as stewards all of creation and a tremendous number of relationships. What we do with them does matter.
How we are stewards matters for us and our lives in this world. And, it matters in our lives in the world to come – this is Jesus’ message in Luke’s Gospel.
The story of the dishonest steward gives us each an opportunity to look at how we use what is given to us. How do we use creation? How do we use the Gospel? How do we use the revelation of God in Jesus Christ? How do we use our lives? How do we use our bodies? How do we use our relationships? How do we greet people who are God’s own? How do we treat one another? How do we lessen the burden of others? Or heap on the burden of others? What we say, what we write, what we spend, how we act matters to God and it matters in the reign of God.
You and I like the disciples are already confronted with the “visitation of our Lord.” We know the expectations and today we are called to make an account. Are we ready?
The Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.
2. Each person briefly identifies the word or phrase that catches their attention then invites another person to share.
3. Each shares the word or phrase until all have shared or passed using the same invitation method.
4. The passage is read a second time, preferably from a different translation. The reader then invites a person in the group to begin the process.
5. Each person briefly identifies where this passage touches their life today, and then invites someone who has not shared yet.
6. The passage is read a third time, also from another translation, and the reader invites a person to start the process.
7. Each person responds to the questions, "What does God want me to do, to be or to change?"
8. The group stands up in a circle and holds hands. One person initiates the prayer “I thank God today for …” and “I ask God today for…” The prayer goes around the circle by squeezing the hand to your right.
9. When the circle is fulfilled, the person who initiated the prayer starts the Lord’s Prayer, “Our father…”