Memorial of Saint Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church
The 16th chapter of the Gospel of Luke presents to us two parables on the disciple’s right use of the wealth. Today we are presented with the first part of the parable of the dishonest steward (16: 1-8).
To grasp the meaning of this parable let us ask ourselves four questions.
- How is the steward dishonest? He is reported to be squandering the good of the master but it is not specified how? It could be through negligence, swindling or incompetence. However, he does not deny the accusation.
- What is the economic situation reflected? The rich man is a kind of absentee landlord who has left the transactions of usual business to the steward. So he is not just a ‘servant’ rather a ‘manager’ who is able to act in the name of the master. He often lent property at a commission, but the bond mentioned only the amount owed, which included both the capital and the interest.
- Why does the master praise the steward? The master may not have known the amount of commission his manager was acquiring but was aware of it. He was not praising the falsification, but his ‘prudence’ inasmuch as he has eliminated his commission.
- What is the point of the parable? It is not a warning against the destructive nature of riches. It is not an approval of dishonesty or of a falsification of document. But the emphasis is on the prudence of the manager on how best to use material possession to ensure his future security. Thus he is a model of the Christian disciple – not for dishonesty but for the prudent use of wealth.
The challenge the parable places before us today is to be prudent with the material wealth that we have, a challenge every disciple need to face in every choice of life that he/she makes.