RESPONDING TO THE WORD OF GOD
Am 8:4-7/1 Tim 2:1-8/Lk16:1-13
Sister Angelo Collins, OPIt is quite catchy to quote St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” And the women who were the first followers of Dominic were the holy preaching as they drew others to the Gospel not by speaking in a church or the market place but through their support of mission by communal living.
But sometimes it is satisfying to use words to preach, and so I welcomed the opportunity to write a reflection on the Sunday readings. That is, until I saw the gospel reading for this Sunday.
What is going on here? Is Jesus really admiring individuals who cheat and enable others to do the same? Not being a scripture scholar or theologian, I began reading what others have written about this passage. I followed the intellectual contortions of these authors as they came to the conclusion that the message may be that the followers of Jesus need to act in a responsible manner or that they need to take the initiative or that they need to know themselves, their strengths and weaknesses.
Not satisfied, I turned to The Message, the Bible in contemporary language. In this version, Eugene Peterson concludes the passage this way, “The master praised the crooked manager . . . because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. (Jesus said) I want you to be smart in the same way . . . using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on bare essentials, so you’ll Iive, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior” (Luke 16: 8-9; pg. 1,696).
So, one possible lesson from Sunday’s reading is that bad behavior is not acceptable, good behavior is not enough, the response to the Word of God is creative attention to bare essentials.
by Sister Angelo Collins, OP