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"Who will entrust to you the real riches?"
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
The Parable of the Unjust Steward
Luke 16:1 Jesus told his disciples: "There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions.
[Luke 16:3] "I cannot dig" indicates the steward is unprepared for physical labor, having been trained for a "white-collar" job.
[Luke 16:5] Though interest is not specifically mentioned in this passage, the unjust steward may have charged excessive interest anyway. Such action would be consistent with his character. The Pharisees do not permit religious principles to interfere with business. Moses forbids the taking of usury from Jews on loans of any kind (Ex. 22:25; Lev. 25:36; Deut. 23:19, 20). The debtor simply agrees to repay a certain amount, which includes principal and interest. The Pharisees argue that this law is for the protection of the destitute and does not apply otherwise. A man is not destitute, in their judgment, if he possesses some of the commodity he seeks to borrow. It is not usury then to take interest.
[16:6] The reduction of the payment was unauthorized by the lender. Consequently, the steward has made friends for himself while taking advantage of his responsible position with the rich man.
[16:8] In praising the steward, the landlord may even be seeking to acquire the benefit of the wily steward's action. Since he is losing the interest, the landlord might as well acquire the reputation of obeying the law.
[16:9] (vv. 9-11) "Unrighteous mammon" (wealth) to the Pharisees is money acquired legally, but tainted in the sight of God. Jesus, however, uses the term to refer to all material resources not used according to the will of God. "They" is a circumlocution for "God" and does not refer to the "friends." "Everlasting home" is a circumlocution for "heaven." "Mammon" is an Anglicized form of an Aramaic word that signifies "that in which one trusts"; hence, frequently in the Targums (early Aramaic translations of portions of the O.T.) it is a term for "money."
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