“A DIFFICULT PARABLE; A MERCIFUL CHRIST”
Saint Luke 16. 1-9
9th Sunday after Trinity: 17 August Anno + Domini 2014
Fr Jay Watson SSP
In The Name + of Jesus
The devil always accuses God’s Saints. And even when you think you are NOT guilty of “a” particular offense, it matters not. No one is good no not one! All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. You do commit daily trespasses for which you daily repent. But your 100% re-cidi-vism rate is due to the fact that you are a sinner with an “old-Adam” virus in your operating system.
In the Lord’s parable the steward was accused of wasting a certain rich man’s goods. It should be properly assumed that the steward was in fact guilty of thievery—“cooking the books.”
But in his last day on the job, probably while taking the few hours he had left to clean out his desk, the steward does something that Jesus later commends—he makes himself some friends, and future benefactors, by using the mammon of unrighteousness. The Lord notes that for someone who is a child of this world (i.e. darkness) that that was a pretty shrewd and wise action.
Christ does not countenance stealing or embezzlement. Christ does not approve of the activity as an activity which the steward engages in: cutting his Masters’ debtors cut-rate deals in order to win friends and influence people. Christ does commend the steward for using what he had, or more precisely, what he had been given; what was entrusted to him, in order to ensure his own earthly salvation.
You are the steward in several ways. Like the man in the parable you too are a thief. You break the Seventh Commandment…every day. The Steward was too prideful to beg and either too lazy or too weak to dig—to do manual labor. You also are vain and slothful. The Steward’s clever ploy to extricate himself from unemployment and a life of poverty was to use his last bit of “authority” the fleeting “power of attorney” if you will, to hold a “fire sale” on debt. He “lightens the ledgers” once last time. He self-justifies himself out the door with a gutsy, waggish, caper-like white-collar heist.
His example, as to content, is sinful and must always be shunned. You are not to self-justify yourself but to admit your guilt and repent in contrition and remorse…and then change behavior!
You are not to think you can ever dig, or work, your way out of accurate accusations and truthful indictments of the Law.
But begging? Begging though it may not have worked in the parable for the Steward…most masters, most “certain rich men” are hardened against begging. They didn’t get rich by showing mercy.
But The Lord is different. Jesus is God. Jesus is God as servant and sacrifice; as host and feast. Jesus’ riches are His cross and humility; His passion and compassion!
Jesus was wrongly accused for all the wasting of goods that you and your kind, mankind, was/is/and will be guilty of! Jesus was not too ashamed to dig, that is, to work and “do” in keeping all of God’s Laws perfect and unbroken. Jesus was not too ashamed to become incarnate of the Blessed Virgin. The flesh and blood of man is no dishonor to our Lord; how could it be since He created it in the garden…in His own image. But the Lord did not beg. He did not beg for mercy because He was Mercy Incarnate! You the miserable beg for His Mercy like Martha and Mary of Bethany; like the 10 Lepers; like Blind Bartimaeus; like the cripple at the pool of Siloam; like the Syro-Phoenician woman, like Jairus, and like the thief on the cross! He always hears your plaintive plea and always has mercy upon you!
He has made you all children of light and He is constraining you by the Holy Ghost to act like it. Be what you are! If a weasly steward in the Lord’s parable can use the mammon of unrighteousness…earthly stuff for earthly security, then why can you not also use earthly goods (the 1st Article gifts of the Creed which Luther lists) to love your neighbor? Why can you not use, that is receive, the earthly elements in your Lords Word and Sacraments to strengthen and preserve your everlasting habitations? You can! Be what you are: High Priests of the New Testament; honored family guests at the Nuptial Hall; dear brothers and sisters of the King at His Table.
When you are daily accused of wasting the rich man’s goods, confess your misdeeds and your misdeed-breeding heart, and ask for forgiveness. Beg the giver of all good things to have mercy on you a poor miserable sinner—seek His Word of love and life, and His Word of Peace and Forgiveness, in His diary of love to you—the Holy Scriptures. When you are shamed by your deeds in thought and word and rightly convicted of hating God and your neighbor…be led again to this His Temple of Remission and His Tabernacle of Presence and let the mammon of wine and the mammon of bread be used by Jesus to give you absolution and strength in His Body given for you and His Blood shed for you. Christ’s Body and Blood and Word are your everlasting habitations!
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost