TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – Am 824-7 lTim 2:1-8 Lk 16:1-13
Social Justice . Christian Cleverness; Money and Religion; Wealth Possessing the Possessor; Can We Have Both Money and God?
You might dislike sharp business practices, but you can’t help but admire the cleverness of some of them. They range from the rather simple level of bait and switch techniques and loss-leader bargains in department stores to sophisticated stock market put-and—call options, bankruptcy proceedings for personal proﬁt, corporate take—overs, and speculations in commodity market futures — sometimes making deals that are hard even to understand, much less perpetrate.
It was on a middle level of sophistication that we ﬁnd the main character in today’s Gospel, which consists of as interesting a group of knaves as you will see outside a rogues’ gallery. To begin with the manager, he was not only not a nice person, he was a villain. He had full authorization to make binding contracts for his master — a common custom of the time. He had to show a proﬁt for his master, but he could make some proﬁt for himself, too, by adroit loans and loan-shark rates of interest. He could find many ways around the Mosaic Law against taking interest on a loan, one way being to accept payment in commodities instead of cash.
Under the blow of his disgrace in having his sharp practices reported, he showed himself lazy, accustomed to deference from his master’s workmen and customers, and soft — not strong enough to dig, and ashamed to beg (v. 3). A wily wheeler-dealer who was far from feeling repentance when he was caught, he turned to embezzlement, theft, and forgery to escape his predicament. But he managed it so cleverly that he made others commit the actual forgery. He directed a debtor who owed the yield of about 150 olive trees to write that he owed only half that. He reduced the obligation of the debtor who owed the yield of about 100 acres of wheat.