September 18, Mixed Bags: a Sunday Scriptures blog

This Sunday we hear a troubling parable. A steward (like a property manager) is going to be fired for cheating his master. So he cuts deals with the master’s debtors and reduces their debts — and in return they help him out, maybe by giving him a cut from the money they save. The parable ends with the master praising the conniving steward for his cleverness. So of course we want to ask, why is this guy’s evil action being praised? Jesus is speaking from his Jewish literary tradition. Hebrew stories prized shrewdness and appreciated how good outcomes sometimes come from surprising sources. For example, in Hebrew Scripture, Jacob tricks his older brother Esau out of his inheritance. And it is an aggressive foreign king, Cyrus of Persia, who ends up liberating the Hebrew exiles. Just as wheat grows with weeds, good and evil are not so separated in life. They are a “mixed bag,” and Jesus’ followers must also be shrewd in understanding that. As the Gospel ends, the same point is made about money. Money is “dishonest,” another mixed bag. Wealth is not always worthily earned or equitably distributed. Yet we must deal with money and wealth in a trustworthy manner — that is, use money without becoming corrupted by it. Usually we think of Jesus of Nazareth in a very spiritual way. Today we meet him as a “man of the world,” wise in the ways of the world. He “got” money and how it influences people. Financial concerns are part of our world too. Nice that we have a Lord we can pray to about that!

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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