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The parable of the dishonest steward

Gospel Reading: Lk 16:1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one.

To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

FOR ACTING PRUDENTLY
Why does the master commend the dishonest steward for his prudence? The parable is problematic. But it can be explained without justifying dishonesty. As a biblical professor suggests, the steward may have had unjust dealings with the debtors. As soon as he learns that his master will fire him for squandering his property, the steward moves to make friends with the debtors, restoring what he has unjustly taken from them. Because of this, the master (or the storyteller) praises the steward for his wise move. The steward knows how to remedy his problem. He uses his skills in mitigating the hard life awaiting him when he is fired from work. We can go back to a more important issue perhaps, which is the matter of squandering. The servant does not live up to what is expected of him as a steward. A steward is supposed to safeguard the wealth and property entrusted to him by the owner. He is tasked to multiply and make use of these for the good of the household. When things get lost or damaged or simply wasted, there is squandering. There should be no squandering of God’s gifts. Prudence means not wasting time, talent, and treasure. It means using our power and authority for the good of the community.

Are you prudent or wasteful?

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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