Parable of the shrewd manager
Friday, November 08, 2019
31st Week in
Rom 15: 14-21
Gospel: Lk 16:1-8
He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. He called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
It appears like verse 8 of today’s Gospel reading promotes shrewdness. Yet we know that honesty is still the best policy. We have a similar problem with other Gospel passages like the story of the corrupt judge who gave in to the persistence of a widow and decided the case in her favor. Yet we know that justice is still the best practice. Justice demands that cases should be decided on their merits and that judges should not be swayed in any way from their sworn duty to uphold the truth.
The key to proper construction of Gospel parables is focus on the core message. Parables are stories that, taken as a whole and not part by part, convey a message, usually one that is moral and spiritual in nature. To focus on the judge’s submission to the persistence of the widow is missing the core message of the parable which is persistence in prayer. The eventual submission of the judge who respected no one in his community serves to underline the “coercive” power of persistent prayer.
Similarly, the message of today’s Gospel parable is not dishonesty but the wise use of material wealth for one’s spiritual growth. Honest people should not be outdone in the maximization of material resources. If corrupt people are able to turn their fate around by manipulating material resources, what stops honest people from maximizing the use of material resources to benefit their souls? – (Atty.) Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., J.D., D.M., M.M.Ex.M., M.A.P.M.
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