Proper 20 – Year C
Jeremiah 8:18-9:1; Psalm 79:1-9; (or Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113); 1 Timothy 2:1-7; Luke 16:1-13
“Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.” – Euripides
In today’s parable the rich man commends his dishonest manager (Luke 16:8). (see Greek below) Then after telling his story, Jesus advises us to make friends for ourselves by means of dishonest wealth (Luke 16:9). Cutting through all the complications of these strange unclear sayings, the bottom line is clear. Why can’t the children of light be as shrewd for true wealth as this steward is for money? And, go ahead, work for mammon. See what it gets you. It will eventually fail us. Then we can turn to what is really important. And we can’t serve both God and money. Wealth does not bring happiness. This truth has been expressed throughout the centuries from Buddha to Euripides to Jesus, all the way to the 1980’s TV show “Dallas.” Jesus is saying that the real measure of our wealth is how much we’d be worth if we lost all our money. There is a line in the prayer of Mary, called the Magnificat, that God has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:53). During Argentina’s dictatorship/revolutionary days there was a law that forbad saying this prayer during public demonstrations. When we are sick we feel the impotence of wealth. This is true both for individuals and societies. Ernest Hemingway said that fear of death increases in exact proportion to increase of wealth. In spite of all the wisdom about true priorities, we still often slip into putting our energies into what will never make us happy. Jesus is saying that we would do well to be just as shrewd for the things of God, like good relationships, justice in our dealings, and love for each other.
Luke 16:8 refers to the dishonest, or unjust or unrighteous (variously translated) manager. The original Greek is actually harsher: “the steward of unrighteousness.” When our priorities are skewed, it is easy for us to slip into being keepers of unrighteousness (dishonesty, injustice).
When absent real riches live.
Shrewd shown for God’s things.