Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property. So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’ Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.
Dr. Audrey West, in the 2004 Lutheran Woman Today Bible study, described a parable as a story about something ordinary, with a surprise or twist that leads us to experience reality in a new way, so that it may even transform our daily living.
The surprise in this parable is not the manager’s self-serving behavior, as we’ve seen for ourselves in some corporate accounting scandals in the news which appear too often. The surprise is the boss showing mercy even to the manager he is going to let go. God’s mercy is repeatedly put forth in the New Testament as his way of responding to a variety of faults by mortal men and women. People matter more than profits; we are told in the Gospel reading. That is the surprise for us each day when we come to realize as our lives are transformed by God’s grace.
We have lived with an understanding that focuses too much on a future goal, eternal life, and which allows us to neglect the kingdom of God in the present. When we focus only on the future, what increases is our indifference to human values in the present. So we can easily pass by the poor, blind, lame, etc., because we are focused on what seems so important, where I will spend eternity. Christian ethics is looking at my neighbor and putting forth what practices and policies I follow and ask myself, “How will these affect tomorrow and the next day?”
This week let us put in practice for others what we want for ourselves—reassessment of my needs in light of others, reversal of my demands, and, yes, the biblical word, repentance for thinking too much of myself and forgetting that “loving my neighbors” is the way I show that “I love the Lord, with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength.”
Help me Lord this week to walk as one of the children of light, faithful to what has genuine value, and serving my Lord and Savior. Amen.