The opening parable in today’s gospel (Luke 16:1-13) is linked both to the main parable in last Sunday’s gospel reading (Luke 15:1-32) and to next Sunday’s (16:19-31). Last Sunday’s prodigal son “squandered” his property and today’s steward was denounced for “being wasteful” with his master’s possessions.
The wasteful steward in today’s parable recognises that his position was at risk, and amends affairs to set up a friendly reception elsewhere, a move that won the approval of his master for its astuteness. Modern readers find this perplexing and could ask why the others who had their debts reduced would trust him with their own property should they employ him. Some suggestions are that it was normal for servants to add their own commission; it was how they were paid, and so this steward would be seen as reducing his own cut, thus as being thrifty, not as grafting.
Many parables in Luke’s gospel have complex overlapping themes, and while some are more prominent, those of these three Sundays (that is, last Sunday, today, and next Sunday) all feature the use of possessions, but each with a different orientation; last Sunday’s prodigal son consumed his goods self-indulgently, today’s steward used his master’s wastefully, and next Sunday’s rich man uses his selfishly—at which time the figure of Abraham is used, the wealthy man who used his possessions generously. Altogether they refer to a quality needed for disciples of Jesus, even if they do not always teach about it directly: the disciples of Jesus are not to be attached to possessions and need to be willing to use them for the good of others and according to the vision of the kingdom of heaven.
Rev Dr Barry Craig - Homily Help Liturgia. Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C