Salvation and Praising a Clever Servant

The parable, Luke 16, 1-13, concerns a manager who is to be relieved of his job because of dishonesty.  Jesus does not identify what precisely is the dishonesty   In this situation, the manager saves himself by making friends with those who were in debt to his master: he reduces their debts and thereby makes friends who, he hopes, will take care of him after he has lost his job with the master.  Jesus underlines the fact that the fictitious manager was clever enough to find a way to save himself.  Certainly, Jesus' audience could agree that this evil person cleverly used means that had every chance of securing his salvation.  And that is the point, at least the first point, of the parable: choose the means to save yourself - you are clever enough to do that.  Unfortunately, Jesus has many experiences to show that people who want God are not so good at finding and choosing the proper means to salvation with God; people uninterested in finding God are often good examples of finding ways to get what they think is their happiness.  Up to this point, the parable is a plea to disciples to find, then choose the means to assure salvation.  Peraphrasing St. Paul: people often work harder for an earthly crown than do we who are promised a heavenly kingdom.  It is Jesus, ever the preacher of repentance, that tells this parable.

John Kilgallen, SJ

 

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