Readings: Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13
A parable starts with the familiar to move me to an unfamiliar perception. Many parables, but not all, use shock tactics to kick me into that other register.
Part of my problem with today’s Gospel is that the economy of Jesus’ day shares nothing with our own economy. It’s been interesting to review what we can recover of the back-water, poverty ridden practices of Jesus’ first century Palestine and Luke’s even worse situation further north. However, I’m not going to lecture on economics two-thousand years ago.
There’s another valuable dynamic in the parable: the dramatic reversal of expectations. If you would trust me for a moment, a rough parallel in our terms would be Jesus saying: if you want to be my disciple, you should learn a few tricks from the current presidential campaign.
OK, there’s a lot to learn about how not to act: I should get my facts straight, speak with respect and take responsibility for my mistakes.
What can I learn from today’s unscrupulous steward? He’s been thrown out of one job and who’d hire him with his record?
But he doesn’t pretend he hadn’t wasted his employer’s property, nor does he ask for a second chance. He makes the most of his humiliation.
Now that is something any disciple can imitate.
Many pious people strive to cultivate humility; but many pious people resist humiliation when it catches up with them. We become defensive and shift the blame. But a humility tailored to my comfort or vanity is no humility at all.
When I’m humiliated, I can accept the fact and work with it; or I can fight it. When I accept it–even welcome it–what a firm foundation! And who would ever want to steal that from me?