Sunday Reading

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager

 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.  So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’

 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’

 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.

“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’

“Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’

“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.

“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’

 “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. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

 “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.  So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?  And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.


Luke 16.1-15

Sunday of the Steward (March 07)

The fourth Sunday of the period of Great Lent is called the Sunday of the Steward, and the message of the day teaches us with the parable of the unjust steward. This parable is mentioned only in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 16:1-13). In the parable, a wealthy man learns that the steward of his house (the supervisor of his holdings) is squandering his possessions.  The rich man calls the steward, asking for an accounting, having decided to release him from employment. The steward, realizing that he may soon be without work, begins to act accordingly so that in the near future, others may accept him into their homes. The steward calls those men who have debts to his employer, and he relieves them of a portion of their debts. Following this act, the wealthy man praises the steward for his contrivance.

At first glance, it seems as though there is a great contradiction in this commendation.  But the unjust steward grants back to the debtors, only that which he had added to the debt originally for his own gain. Thus, the wealthy man is not injured by the actions of his steward. The master praises the steward for resigning himself from the gains that the steward would have realized in these transactions. Thus, high praise is given to resignation, or abstinence, which is one of the foundations of Great Lent.

Lent teaches mankind about the ability we each have to resign ourselves from all forms of temptation, the beginning of which is self-control and self-denial. Christ says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). This parable admonishes every one of us that the journey towards salvation must include self-control and resignation. The allegorical meaning of the parable is in the wealthy man symbolizing God, and the unjust steward symbolizing the sinner. For an extended period of time, the sinner carelessly wastes the graces granted by God, until God calls him for an accounting of his life. The unjust steward symbolizes all who, upon regretting their actions, forgive those who have sinned against them, and become seekers of righteousness and the just.

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