Friday, November 6, 2015
Reflection: Luke 16:1-8
Friday of the 31st Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 16:1-8
This Gospel begins with Jesus telling his disciples another parable. He says to the disciples: “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property.” Upon hearing this report, the rich man immediately summoned his steward and said, “What is this I hear about you?” Then the rich man demanded that the steward immediately give him a full account of his duties and his accounts. The rich man also told the steward that he was fired for misconduct.
The steward was worried about what his future would hold. Physically the steward was not strong. He had never done any labor with his hands. And he realized that his employer would not give him a good reference. He was not strong. He did not have any skills with his hands. Nor was he a farmer. However, the steward did have one skill: he was a wily and cunning man.
After giving the situation some thought, the steward came up with a plan. He decided to call in each of his master’s debtors. When the first man came in, the steward asked the man how much money he owed the master. The man replied: “One hundred measures of olive oil.” The steward then told the man to take his promissory note and to change the amount of the note to fifty measures of olive oil.
Then the steward called in the next debtor. This man held a promissory note for one hundred measures of wheat. The steward instructed this man to change the amount of his note to eighty measures of wheat. What a wily man this steward was. Was he hoping one of these men might hire him if/when he was fired for stealing from the rich man?
When the master found out what the steward had done, he commended the steward for being so enterprising. In today’s world, the man immediately would have been arrested and put in jail, brought into court on charges and he likely would have ended up in prison. What is Jesus telling us in this parable? Is he encouraging us to be sly and to feather our own nest at the cost of others? Jesus is not condoning what the steward did although the master does praise the steward for being clever, creative and inventive. However, this does not give us leeway to perpetrate fraud in order to gain more for ourselves. I wonder if Jesus is inviting us to be clever, creative, inventive and enterprising in how we live our lives? This does not necessarily mean we have to cheat someone else.
Some of the individuals that I have met who “color outside the lines” often are happier, freer and more peaceful. Today I invite you in one small way to “color outside the lines.” Then notice: How did that feel? Often in our lives, we may be living as if we were in a straight-jacket. And we may not even recognize that we are wearing a straight-jacket. Today take an hour and remove your “straight-jacket.” Enjoy the freedom! Play! Dance! Be happy! (And chances are good that you won’t be hurting anyone else!)