Kerygma – parable 7 – the unrighteous clever administrator

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INTRODUCTION

Today we read the parable about the intelligent but dishonest administrator in ( Luke 16:1-13 ) it is about how we administrate our own lives and the life of our community.

I have had some dificulties to understand this parable. What does this parable teach us? The Italian program “A sua immagine” was not able to discuss this. They left this difficult issue to seek safety in a dialog about miracles instead. 

The Liparian priest never read the parable. He read the “short (easy) version (Luke 16:10-13 ), so I did not have to explain it. I wonder why.

NB. The priest in the television mass read however the parable and Pope Franciscus talked about it without explaining it. The dishonest administrator in the parable  is acc ording to him like the many corrupt people we haev today. 

INDEX

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The parable text

Accoring to Luke 16:01-13 Jesus  said to his disciples:

16:01 “There was a certain rich man who had a manager. An accusation was made to him that this man was wasting his possessions. He called him, and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give an accounting of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’  “The manager said within himself, ‘What will I do, seeing that my lord is taking away the management position from me? I don’t have strength to dig.  I am ashamed to beg. I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from management, they may receive me into their houses.’ Calling each one of his lord’s debtors to  Him, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe to my lord?’ for an agricultural laborer. He said, ‘A hundred batos of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ Then he said to another, ‘How much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred cors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’
16:08 “His lord commended the dishonest manager because he had done wisely, for the children of this world are, in their own generation, wiser than the children of the light.

jesus explains the parable like this:

16:09 I tell you, make for yourselves friends by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when you fail, they may receive you into the eternal tents.
16:10 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. He who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?   No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You aren’t able to serve God and mammon .”

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The message in the Parable

The rich man said to the dishonest administrator “Give an accounting of your management” is interesting as it reminds about Gods willingness to listen to us. God wants us to think about our own behaviour, just like a good teacher wants this from its pupils and students.

The rich man then said “for you can no longer be manager.” makes me think that we must take our responsibility and let someone else do our administration. Leaving our work as manager and administrator can be done only if the parable talks about the administration of a  comunity. That may be the comunity of our church, our work, our classroom or whatever else community of humans.

The administrator shows to be clever. He  found a dishonest solution to secure his future:

Luke 16:04 I know what I will do, so that when I am removed from management, they may receive me into their houses.’

 As the Pope Franciscus said after the Mass celebration in Rome, that teh administrators behaviour is a “example of corruption that is frequent today”. Corrupted people that are not intelligent enough to do a good job, dedicate their time being dishonest instead.

But the problem with this parable comes when Jesus explains the parable like this.  Jesus started his explanation with a very puzzleing answer.

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The parable explained by Jesus

Luke 16:09 “make for yourselves friends by means of unrighteous mammon”

Does really Jesus invite us to get friends with unrighteous behaviour, by e.g. corrupting people? It sonds like “steal from the rich and give to the poor” like Robin Hood did according to the legend.

Maybe the author William Langlands was inspired by this parable?

( Source : wallazee.global.ssl.fastly.net )

But Jesus said according to Matthew 05:20

unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees,  there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

To be dishonest can not be what Jesus intended to teach us with this parable. But this verse of Matthew 06:19  may give us a clue 

“Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.

A friend from Messina read Jesus answer as ““make for yourselves friendship with unrighteous people” like a way of love your enemie. But that has nothing or little to do with the parable. Those borrowers who where in dept with the rich man,  were not necessary unrighteous people beside of not having paid. The administrator made these borrowers unrighteous by asking them to falsify document and pay less.

As the Pope said, the parable may teach us to do something good after our bad behaviour  e.g by making other happy, that is creating “treasures in heaven”. This is valid also if you have been a bad administrator of your own life.

if you have mistreated your own body with e.g. drug abuse, you can once saved, help others to do the same.

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conclusions

As www.goodnewsarticles.com by David A. DePra  writes,  this parable “is one of the more “puzzling” parables of Jesus. Yet in it is one of the most powerful lessons Jesus ever gave as to God’s purpose for us in this age. It answers the questions, “What is God’s purpose in my life? And what should I be doing to cooperate with Him?”

Back to the question ” Does really Jesus invite us to make friends by unrighteous mammon”  as it is written in Luke 16:09 ?

Th article inwww.goodnewsarticles.com by David A. DePra has the best discussion about this parable but David A. DePra does not discuss the meaning of unrighteous mammon.

looking at the verse in Biblehub 16:9 interlingual (with greek)

I see that unrighteous mammon isi written byLuke with  the Greek μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας. The translation of μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας  is translated by Bibkehub to “the wealth of unrighteousness”

as blog.adw.org/2013/08/what-does-jesus-mean-by-unrighteous-mammon/ writes

Mammon” is a Hebrew and Aramaic word that has a wider concept than just money. It refers to wealth in general and, even further, to the things of this world on which we rely. 

http blog.adw.org discusses the meaning of Mammon being dishonest or unrighteous. The article has this conclusion, that Jesus invites us:

“that we befriend the poor with our “unrighteous mammon,” that we be generous to others who are less fortunate.”

being still confused, I may come back to this post with updates.