Several parables depict a steward and his master. The Gospel of saint Luke reports the Parable of the Just Steward and the Parable of the Unjust Steward who faces him. The latter surprises the reader because Jesus does not use the example of this dishonest steward to chastise him, but on the contrary, the Lord praises his skill. Discover the parable and the many lessons to be learned.
“Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg—
I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
“So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.”
At first, this parable may surprise, why would Jesus praise the dishonesty of this steward? In reality, it is his ingenuity that the Lord sets as an example. While the sons of darkness, thieves, villains and corrupt men harm each other and make great efforts to carry out their dark deeds, the sons of Light put little zeal into serving God's interests. The Lord invites his disciples to be intelligent in order to win heaven for themselves and for a large number of brothers.
This parable emphasizes other essential points: Man is only passing through this Earth, one day he will be called to account. Is he thinking, like this dishonest manager, of preparing a place for the future?
Moreover, the parable emphasizes the injustice of wealth. If many consider their money and property legitimate, Jesus reminds us here that the money itself is unfair. What have we done to deserve what we have? To be born here or there? What about the source of money? The situation of poor countries, the organized plundering of their wealth. For all these reasons, Jesus speaks of dishonest money and concludes by saying that “one cannot serve God and money”. Money must be used for the service of the poorest, which makes it an eternal good.
Jesus asks us to be skillful and astute with regard to our salvation and that of our brothers. Together, let’s show ingenuity to announce the gospel and help our brothers: Our prayer communities can help you walk this path.