This weeks Gospel reflection (Luke 16:19-31)

This Sunday’s Gospel sees Jesus pose to the Pharisees another challenging scenario. This time his parable speaks of two men: a poor man (Lazarus) and a rich man, each knowing the other. The story hinges on the death of both of them but find themselves in an unfamiliar (at least then) place. The favored place, Abraham’s bosom, goes to Lazarus the poor man, not to the rich man. The rich man sees Lazarus with Abraham and, recognizing his authority, ignores Lazarus and addresses Abraham. He firsts asks for comfort in the way of water (a symbol of Jesus?). Accepting the difficult situation – that he could not go to him, nor could he cross to them – he asks for Lazarus to be sent to his family so that they may repent and avoid his current unpleasantness. Abraham rightfully, highlights the fact of a lack of authority in Lazarus being sent, authority that is found in Moses and the prophets: authority that the rich man saw in Abraham.

We get from here a clear-ish look at the afterlife. Clear-ish because while we clearly see allusions to heaven and hell neither is individually or collectively exhaustive – there is more to the afterlife than this. But the message here is a little hidden. Clearly the favored place to be, the bosom of Abraham, is a desirable place to be, but how does one get there? Does one need to be poor? Have your wounds licked by dogs? Or is it something’s else. The message here is that success in this life does not guarantee a favored place in the hereafter. So much for the “health-and-wealth” gospel. Another point of interest, particularly for Catholic apologetics, this passage more than a couple of times calls Abraham father. Therefore it becomes a marquee reference to refute those who challenge the Catholic practice of calling priests father when Mat 23:9 says call no man father for you have only one father in heaven. More need to be said about this, perhaps some other time, but remember that scripture needs to be read in the context of the church. Also there is nothing in scripture that disagrees with the church, but again perhaps some other time.

So how are we to live out today what Jesus is trying to teach us? Well, what we do today effects our eternal salvation. This much is clear. Whatever our state in life – rich or poor – there are no guarantees. Persevere in trials. Work for heavenly reward. Submit to divine authority. And, as my uncle puts it, you’re a long time dead, so think.

How else might you live out Jesus’ message this week?

This week’s gospel reflection Luke 16:1-13

In the first few seconds we hear the word steward a number of times. So stewardship becomes the context for what is being said here. As father has told us over the last month as part of our stewardship drive, stewardship is a way of sacrificial living; giving time, talent and treasure back to God and for better use in the future. A sort of reinvesting of our things if you will.

First we see that the steward is being wasteful with what he has been given. This is the reason of his being dismissed as a steward. Having been caught out and made accountable, he contemplates a way out. A quick self examination finds that he cannot dig (hide) and that he is too proud to go begging in the streets. In trying not to cover his actions but rather to find a place of welcome, he becomes lenient in the debts owed to the master and in doing so he becomes what the Master wants us to be: merciful. And it is this astuteness, this deeper thinking (cunning) that becomes praised. This I think is the key to understanding this passage.

It reminds me of Mat 10:16 where Jesus sends his disciples out like sheep amount wolves so be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves. This is cunning.

Later, Jesus tells us to use money to win friends. He we see an image of right relationship with friends (a sign of the Kingdom of God). But these friends can give you access to eternity. Could these be saints and angels and all the heavenly host?

Jesus goes on to praise what the steward has done by making him an example of charity even though it is dishonest charity. The steward has been lenient with his masters money, not his own. Even so, this charity is praise worthy as he was not fixed on making money even for his Master.

Summing up, Jesus highlights that one cannot be the slave of two masters, and we have seen how far this steward went to stay a steward for his master. He went to great lengths to retain his stewardship. What are we willing to do to maintain right relationship with our friends and our closest friend Jesus?