LUKE 16, 1-9 A SIMPLE INTERPRETATION


And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward.

The rich man is God, the Only One Who is really rich, because to Him belongs everything. The steward is a man, who has spent his life upon the earth, his stewardship of the riches of God’s creation, accumulating goods for him, wasting in this way his Lord’s riches as he’s used his talents in a sterile way, for no good outside his lust and egoism.

The Lord calls him unto judgement, warning him (through an illness) to prepare to give account of his life (stewardship).

Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.

The man feels lost, as he knows he has really wasted his Lord’s riches and his talents, he realizes that he will have no right answer before the Lord’s judgement seat.

In search of salvation, he ponders what he may do to escape the exile unto strange places, the loss of his stewardship upon the earth which prefigures the same loss in the age to come. He is not able to labor into ascetic fruits of repentance (to dig), he is not able to pray properly (to beg), because the ways of his stewardship (life) are fierce chains which dig deeply into his flesh to bound his spirit.

He then decides for the only way to escape homelessness, the separation from God.

So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?
And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.

He calls for his debtors, who are in fact his Lord’s debtors, as everything belongs to God and because they have received what is not (yet) the fruits of their labor, and forgive them a substantial part of what they owe.

And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

God commends the steward for this, not pronouncing judgement unto him. He has finally ceased to waste his Lord’s goods in barren and senseless accumulation and egoistical enjoyment, using them to ease the yoke of his needful neighbors, even to the point of becoming a type of Christ, forgiving our sins (deficiencies). The fact that the debtors are not completely relieved underscores the necessity of our own labors into salvation (repentance).

He has acted wisely, being faithful at last to his Master in the least things (the fruits of mammon, the possession of material things, where the children of this world have obviously more expertise and skills), in the things which do not belong to him, so that he can hope to be entrusted with what is his own, eternal life by possessing his spirit to grow unceasingly into likeness of God.

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

The Lord is here pointing out to all of us, sinners, labouring in the cares of this world, the way to be faithful to God while working in the dominion of mammon, into the deceit which dominates entirely this world.

He is indicating to the wealthy the way how a camel can pass through the eye of a needle. In fact, if you have a net worth above 150,000 euro, apart from the house you live in and factories producing goods and labour, and call yourself a Christian, I fear that you are just deluding yourself.

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

There is a more immediate interpretation of this parable, where the unjust steward serves an earthly master, who at last praises (and decides to retain) his craftiness, which is necessary to prosper in the material world.

He’s used as a comparison by the Lord, an example to follow in the spiritual realm, where the steward’s craftiness does not make friends by the unrighteous mammon for material gains (new places to stay and work), but for spiritual everlasting treasures in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In both cases, the meaning and the exhortation of the Lord are just the same.

Praise ye the Lord, all ye works of His hands, from every corner of His dominion.

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