Riches and Poverty[a]
The Parable of the Crafty Steward.[b] 1 Jesus also said to his disciples: “There was a rich man who had a steward, and he was informed that this steward was squandering his property. 2 Therefore, he summoned him and said, ‘What are these reports that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’
3 “Then the steward said to himself, ‘What am I going to do, now that my master is dismissing me from being steward? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am too ashamed to beg. 4 What I must do is to make sure that people will welcome me into their homes once I am removed from being steward.’
5 “Then he summoned his master’s debtors one by one. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6 When he was told, ‘One hundred jars of olive oil,’ he said to the man, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and change the number to fifty.’ 7 Then he asked another, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ When he was told, ‘One hundred measures of wheat,’ he said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’ 8 The master commended the crafty steward because he had acted shrewdly. For the children of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light.[c]
Application of the Parable.[d] 9 “And I tell you: use your worldly wealth to make friends for yourselves so that, when it has been exhausted, they will welcome you into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted in small matters can also be trusted in great ones, but whoever is dishonest in small matters will also be dishonest in great ones. 11 Therefore, if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will entrust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not shown yourself to be trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you anything of your own?
13 “No servant can serve two masters. For you will either hate the one and love the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Teachings concerning Justice and the Judaic Law
14 A Saying against the Pharisees.[e] The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and they ridiculed him. 15 He said to them, “You people pretend to be upright when you wish to impress others, but God knows what is in your hearts. That which is highly esteemed in the eyes of men is detestable in the sight of God.
16 Sayings about the Law.“The Law and the Prophets were in effect until John. From that time the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is trying to force his way in.[f] 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one letter of the Law to be discarded.[g]
18 Sayings about Divorce.[h]“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and anyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
The Rich Man and Lazarus: A Warning
19 The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.[i]“There was a rich man who used to dress in purple garments and the finest linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who would have been grateful to be fed with the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores.
22 “Now the poor man died, and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In the netherworld,[j] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham, far off, and Lazarus by his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that during your lifetime you received many good things, while Lazarus suffered greatly. Now he is being comforted while you are in agony. 26 Moreover, between us and you a great chasm has been established, so that no one who wishes to do so can pass from our side to yours, nor can anyone pass from your side to ours.’
27 “ ‘Then I beg you, father,’ he said, ‘to send him to my father’s house, 28 to warn my five brothers, lest they too end up in this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham responded, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets. Let them listen to them.’
30 “He said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 Abraham answered, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
- Luke 16:1 From the very origins of the Gospel tradition, the parable of the crafty steward has created difficulty. People could evolve abusive applications from it: e.g., does it promote fraud? In order to avoid any false interpretation, different sentences of Jesus concerning money have been joined to the parable.
- Luke 16:1 It is a fact that people bring a great deal of initiative and intelligence to their affairs even when these are worthy of criticism or unjust. Alas, believers put forth little effort for the kingdom! This is the lesson to be retained from the parable. It is a call for lucidity and creative intelligence. Jesus is suggesting the skill of a swindler, not fraud or theft.
- Luke 16:8 Children of light: a Hebrew expression signifying those enlightened by a superterrestrial faith as opposed to the children of this world, who are focused solely on their earthly interests.
- Luke 16:9 Money dominates all of life and society. The attitude toward money is a test of the fidelity of Christians. Those who seek imperishable goods are detached from perishable ones. They know how to give alms (v. 9), and they earn and manage their goods with honesty (vv. 10-11). Yet money means little in reality; the true good is the gift of God (v. 12). Hence, the quest for gain and fortune must not be first in the life of Christians, for then money would become a false god for them (v. 13).
- Luke 16:14 More than once Jesus denounces the pretense of those who pass themselves off as religious people (see Lk 11:39-40; 18:9; 20:47).
- Luke 16:16 The Law and the Prophets designates the Old Testament as it was read in the synagogues. We must make an effort in order to enter the kingdom of God.
- Luke 16:17 The Law will not pass away, for it includes the whole revelation given to the chosen people, with its prophetic character (see Lk 24:27, 44).
- Luke 16:18 Divorce was allowed and regulated by Old Testament law (see Deut 24:1-4). The position of Jesus is a radical one, as numerous New Testament passages attest (see Mt 5:31-32; 19:1-12; Mk 10:1-12; 1 Cor 7:10-11).
- Luke 16:19 The rich man cannot avoid the message of this passage; indeed, this is for him a sufficient sign and a more persuasive one than the most amazing miracle. Abraham’s side: literally, “Abraham’s bosom”; in the language of the day this suggested the post of honor at the heavenly banquet (see Mt 8:11).
- Luke 16:23 Netherworld: see note on Lk 10:15.