Homily for November 4th, 2016: Luke 16:1-8.
“The master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.” From antiquity Bible commentators have disputed about who is meant by “the master.” Is he the man’s employer – or Jesus himself? It is difficult to believe that the praise can have come from an employer who has just told his steward – we would call him a manager -- that he is about to be fired. So the praise must come from Jesus himself. How is that possible? Clever the manager may have been. But honest? Hardly. How can Jesus praise what all can see is a swindle?
Jesus does not praise the manger’s dishonesty. He praises the man’s ability to recognize his desperate situation. For him, it is now or never. Jesus addresses the parable to those who remain indifferent to his message. The story is Jesus’ attempt to shake them out of their complacency. His message confronted them with the need to decide: for him, or against him. To postpone this decision, to continue living as if nothing had changed, with the attitude of “business-as-usual”, was in fact to decide against Jesus. That meant disaster. Trapped in what looks like a hopeless situation, the manager cleverly found a way out and acted while there was still time. It is this cleverness and enterprise which Jesus commends, not the man’s dishonesty.
Jesus Christ asks us for the same decision today: for him, or against him. It is not a once-for-all decision – something like learning to ride a bicycle: once you’ve learned, you know it for life. Our decision for Jesus Christ needs to be renewed every day.
For those who are trying to renew their decision for Jesus Christ every day, joy awaits, beyond our imagining: eternal life with Him who alone can fulfill the deepest longings of our hearts.