First part: 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. 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. 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. 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.
Second part: 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. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
At the Sunday Mass, as I felt the priest commenting on this passage of the Gospel of Luke, I began to reflect on the experience of life gained in recent months. Listening to the steps of the commented piece, I found a key to the interpretation that has suddenly opened up the treasures of this passage.
Verses 1-2: a rich man dismisses his steward, accused of wasting his goods. This is the theme. Suddenly a man finds himself out of work. His life takes a dramatic and unexpected turn. The Gospel says that the administrator had wasted the rich man’s money. The verb to waste is the english translation of the greek diaskorpizein. This is also the verb that describes the way of life of the “Prodigal Son” narrated in the previous chapter (cfr. Luke 15:13). In that account, the verb described the unbridled use of inheritance given by his father, who led the prodigal son to a life of extreme poverty (cfr. Luke 15:15 to 16). Probably the passage of the unjust steward has the same object. He was fired because he had made illegal use of the money entrusted.
Verses 3-4: the “unjust steward” didn’t demoralize, knowing exactly what to do. Unlike the prodigal son who lies in a state of extreme existential difficulties, the unjust steward doesn’t let down, but immediately he says: I know what to do. I think this is the focal point of the story, at least one of the focal points of the story, depending on the levels and ways in which to read the Bible. Perhaps for many Bible’s readers this phrase simply denotes the shrewdness of the steward. I think instead that here there is much more. Often when a man is fired from job he can falls into the blackest depression. People doesn’t know what to do. People thinks to not able to survive. You can live in this situation for months, thinking all the time about what happened without to look for an alternative just as did the so called “unjust steward”. Everything happens in life is an opportunity to grow, to evolve, to improve, to be more adequate to face life. If you think instead that life is over, there is no alternative, you run the risk to enter into a black space. It maybe the whole thing is made worse by inactivity, which often brings out problems that were locked inside your heart. Eventually you don’t feel anymore at safe. All you first gave guarantees, certainties for the future, is now dramatically collapsed.
The “unjust steward” instead knows very well what is needed to overcome the traumatic event. He needs “to be received into houses”. Obviously the phrase means “a house over his head”, but also the need of not feeling alone. After years and years of dishonest work, lauded and (falsely) revered by all, now that he is fired from job, things change dramatically. To be alone and to be without work is a desperate perspective. To know what to do doesn’t means just to find a new job, but also to find ways to not to be alone. (To be continued)