Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who with the Holy Spirit are three-in-one.
The parable in our Gospel lesson this morning is difficult for us to understand, because it is not a positive parable, but a negative one. To help us to understand this parable, I would like to share a modern parable, and then a story about a politician who was concerned about getting reelected.
There was a certain labor racketeer who had grown rich on sweetheart contracts and in the use of pension fund money. One day he found that the F.B.I. was tailing him and he began to suspect that there was no escape for him. So what did he do? Carefully he put a large sum of money in a Swiss bank so that no one could touch it and faced trial. After exhausting all appeals, he was sentenced and served time in the Atlanta Federal Prison. Having served time, He took his money and moved to Miami Beach where he lived happily ever after.
The second story is about Senator Huey Long who was trying to get reelected to the Senate. He was campaigning in southern Louisiana where he was taken aside by a local politician and reminded that he would be speaking to a lot of Catholic voters.
Throughout the day Huey told his audiences how as a boy he would get up at six o’clock on Sunday mornings, hitch the family horse to the buggy and take his Catholic grandparents to mass. After he brought them home, he would turn around and take his Baptist grandparents to church. At the end of the day, the, local politician complimented Huey and expressed his surprise at learning he had Catholic grandparents, To which Huey Long replied: “Don’t be a fool. We didn’t even have a horse.”
Aren’t these stories educational? Would you like to be one of these people? They are rascals, rogues, crooks, liars, and all around questionable people. These stories are not good examples of how we are to live our lives. But this is just the kind of story Jesus told, about a crook, a dishonest steward who was commended for his dishonesty. He had cheated his boss and was being fired. But before he lost his job, he thought about how he would take care of himself. He was used to a good living and couldn’t bear to dig ditches or beg, so he decided that the people who owed his boss money would be grateful to him, if their bill could be changed. So, he invited these debtors in, and asks them to change their bill.
His boss finds out about it and instead of becoming angry, he commends this guy for using his head, for thinking fast on his feet, so that he would be taken care of.
I think Jesus was perhaps using an unusual story to make a point because there is a bit of irony in this story. We aren’t to be like the dishonest steward in his dishonest deeds, but this is the point, we are to be like him in that he thought how he could get himself out of such a desperate situation.
Jesus is letting his disciples know with a story we wouldn’t think He would use to teach with, that the men of the world are outsmarting the men of light. This conniving scoundrel faced the facts, sized up a situation and acted in quick, cold logic. Jesus wished that his followers would do as much from nobler motives.
Jesus is saying in a way, if only the Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the men of the world are in their attempts to attain money and comfort. Jesus wants us to act with the same intensity in our discipleship toward him as the rascals, cheats, and crooks act in their attempt to gain comfort and wealth from the world.
If crooks and those who are only looking out for their own welfare are so ingenious and can act so decisively about things that really don’t matter, why does a Christian seem so casual about the care of his/her soul? Do we as Christians work as hard at our discipleship in following Jesus, as the two business men in the following story do by trying to cheat people?
“Two partners had a clothing store. One would stay in the back room while the other waited on the people. The one waiting on the people would pretend he was hard of hearing. When a customer would choose a suit he liked, he would ask the price. The clerk would call to his partner in the back room, “How much is this suit, Harry?” Harry would reply loud and clear so the customer would be sure to hear, “$149.00″
The clerk would then say,” He said it is $129.00.” Many people would hurry and buy the suit for $129.00, thinking they were making a good deal because the person waiting on them did not hear the right price. Little did the customer realize that his greed cost him several dollars. The same suit sold for $119.00 or less in other places.”
These two men went to great lengths to assure themselves of a comfortable living at the cost of cheating the public. But do we as children of the light as Jesus describes those who follow him, act with the same intensity, the same effort in living for Jesus???
Do you see the point Jesus is making in this parable? He is saying that since the people of the world are so intense in their way of life, why aren’t my followers? If the crooks of the world will stop at nothing to make money, why aren’t we who are followers of Jesus as committed to him with such zeal, ambition, and dedication?
Jesus says, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 6:8). Jesus is saying, why aren’t you as committed to me with such shrewdness as the sons or people of this world are in looking out for themselves?
This parable deals not with money or commending a person for being dishonest. What this parable really deals with is one’s commitment or discipleship toward Jesus. Jesus wants our lifestyle committed to him. He wants the way we act, the way we think, the way we make decisions, the way we interact with others, all to be influenced by our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Jesus doesn’t want us for only one hour a week on Sunday morning, He wants every hour of every day, He wants an intensity in that relationship that comes before anything else on this earth. And he wants us to work at that commitment, not take it for granted. He wants our active participation in this relationship.
In this relationship we have with Jesus, we come to experience his love for us, then we take that love and give it to others. We become a tool, the means through which God works to free His people. We became the presence of Jesus’ love in a world that is crying out for some one to care. Jesus wants our presence in the world to be intense, fully committed to bringing his love into all that brokenness.
But sadly, many people of faith have little intensity, little effort, to portray the love of Christ in their lives or in the lives of others. This parable is not about money, but about commitment, giving of ones self to Jesus.
Jesus closes this parable with a statement which tends to say it all as he says: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
John Ruskin, a famous 19th century preacher, said this as he watched a lamplighter lighting the gas street lights. “Now that is what I mean by being a Christian. You ought to be able to see where he has been by the lights that he leaves burning behind him.”
Is your light burning for Christ for others to see clearly? Have you been committed in your calling to make disciples? Sadly, most of us have to answer no.
But praise be to God that He is patient and loving. Praise and honor should also be given Him who gave us His word so that we might know of this patience and love. He is waiting for the people of Prince of Peace to follow His call. How are we going to show Him that we have heard this request?
God guide you and keep you strong in all you do and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen