What we have for this Sunday’s Gospel is what seems at first sight to be a straightforward parable about social justice. It is a story about the rich and the poor and in particular it is about how in the final analysis it is the poor and the persecuted who will be vindicated by God.
The Gospel text today is rather puzzling. It is about the dishonest steward who when he faced dismissal marked down the debts owed to his master by various of his debtors. He did this in order that once he was made redundant these men would be obligated to help him. When the master finds out about his actions, he unexpectedly praises the steward for his dishonesty.
We are surely all extremely familiar with the story of the Prodigal Son. It is unique to the Gospel of Luke and is a wonderful lesson in forgiveness. It has been the Gospel chosen for countless services of reconciliation and maybe some of us are so familiar with it that we have forgotten just what a wonderful story it is.
The opening phrase of today’s Gospel is rather puzzling. Can Jesus really be telling us to hate our very closest relatives? And can he who came to give us life insist that we hate our own lives? Many scholars suggest that what we are dealing with is a difficulty of translation. They suggest that Jesus does not actually mean that we should hate our lives or those close to us. They tell us that the idiom used in Hebrew actually means ‘love less’ and not literally ‘hate’. This then leaves us with the idea that we should love Jesus even more than we love our own close family or even our own lives.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket