Luke’s gospel is the Gospel of Peace, Prayer, Power and Possession. Luke asserts that possessions or wealth are not evil in themselves, but are a responsibility. He uses parables and stories to illustrate this conviction. This is the Gospel of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Drama, and the Dishonest Stewart, etc. In this periscope Luke starts and ends with the phrase there was a certain man…” In verse 14. Jesus posits that the Pharisees were “Lovers of Money.” He carefully selects the character of the Dishonest Stewart. Technically, a “Steward” is a “keeper of the pig sty.” There is no position lower than this for a Jew! As we have been told in the “Parable of the Prodigal Son.”
In the early Christian Community critics questioned Jesus’ divinity when Jesus used “questionable characters” as models for discipleship. In other words, these characters weren’t strong enough to dig, or humble enough to beg. Their tenure is marked by incompetency and flagrant dishonesty. So they marshalled their skills by cooking the absentees’ landowners’ books to benefit themselves. Luke allows us to listen to the “internal dialogue” the Steward has with himself.
The Dishonest Stewart does not have any “self-pity”, he faces the facts and takes action to insure his future is comfortable. God’s Son, Jesus, was sent into the world to establish the reality of things. His disciples was to “leave the lie and embrace the truth.” Jesus is saying “be decisive in your discipleship. No one knows the day or the hour when the absentee landowner will show up!” St. Ambrose tells us “it is the bosom of the poor, the houses of widows, and the mouths of the children that are the barns that will last forever.”
I know a couple who had a conversation that said that they had more money than they needed. So they decided to keep a portion of their fortune to take care of themselves. The rest of their holdings were divided among their four children. The thinking was why wait to give their children the inheritance after they have died. Why not give this money to help their children who could use it now rather than after their deaths. And as the story goes: “They lived happily ever after.”
Fr. Ken O’Malley, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community at Sacred Heart Monastery in Louisville, Kentucky.