Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Proper 20
September 22, 2019
First Reading: Jeremiah 8:18-9:1
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2:1-7
Gospel: Luke 16:1-13
Haves and Have Not’s
The reading in Luke today 16:1-13, follows the parable, The Parodical Son 15:11-32.
Both lessons are about money and who has the money and who does not.
When Jesus spoke in parable’s, he was reaching out to his followers, the believers who might be able to understand his message more than the non-believers.
However, the pharisees are listening very closely to what he is say.
Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges are brought to him that this man was squandering his property.
So, he summoned him and said to him,
“What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.”
Then the manager said to himself, “What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me”
I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’
So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?”
He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’
Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’
What the manager was doing, was securing his future with people outside his work, just in case he was fired or let go. He didn’t have any other skills to provide for himself. And by doing this he was stacking up favors, that he could possibly draw on later.
We watched a movie recently on Netflix, starring Melissa McCarthy. The title was Can you ever forgive me?
A true story, Melissa was portraying Lee Israel. Lee Israel is a frustrated, hard-drinking author, who had published one book, that did not sell. She lived in a small apartment in the 1990’s in New York City. Her one friend, a flamboyant gay man, also with a drinking problem.
But her true friend, the one that understood her the best, was her 12-year-old cat whom she loved and the only thing, she had to live for.
Ms. Israel’s cat was sick and needed to be treated by a vet, but she owed money on her last bill, and they refused to see the cat. She was 3 months behind in her rent, along with multiple other expenses.
When visiting her publicist, again, she tells Lee to find a job, another job, no one will give her money for a book she has not written; she is a poor risk. Plus, she is very unkept, dirty and rude! So, go do something else to make money.
Not only does Ms. Israel have writers block, but she has no other skills!
A description on the internet about her went like this.
Lee Israel is frustrated and desperate for money, she soon hatches a scheme to forge letters by famous writers and sell them to bookstores and collectors. When the dealers catch on, Lee recruits a dubious friend to help her continue her self-destructive cycle of trickery and deceit.
She forged over 400 letters, and was paid hundreds if not thousands of dollars for each letter.
With the money, she was able to take the cat to the vet, pay her rent. But she continued drinking and leading a life of self-destruction.
I felt sorry for her.
After she was caught by the FBI the first time and arrested, she was before a judge who was lenient on her.
Lee, was remorseful in a way, but she was also so proud of the work she had put into the letters, the thing in her sad life she was really proud of doing. Like the manager in the parable, she had no other skills so she got creative at the expense of someone else.
The rich man in verses 8-9 goes easy on the manager.
And his master commended the dishonest manager, because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are shrewder in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.
Is it ever okay to be dishonest? Is it okay to use your skills to get ahead? Let’s consider a natural disaster.
If you are forced to leave home to avoid the next hurricane that is coming and you and thousands of people all travel in the same direction, guaranteed the prices for gas are going up, the hotels and motels will raise their rates, and restaurants will elevate the price of food.
Are they just making a living? Yes, but it’s exploiting people to benefit themselves.
I personally don’t agree with this.
A couple of years ago, somewhere in the south, I remember a man who owned a motel, and instead of rising the price of a motel room, he let family’s stay in his motel free of charge.
He caught the attention of the news and was interviewed on the local and national news, because of his kindness, people from around the county started sending him supplies and money to help care for the people staying in his motel.
His actions are what God see’s and his reward will be greater in the Kingdom of God.
The steward in the parable was dishonest and he made a mess of his life and he knew he was responsible for his own misery.
Just like Lee Israel, she made a mess of her life and she knew she sold her own soul by being dishonest.
Did the manager hurt anyone when he gave them a break on their bill?
Did Ms. Lee Israel hurt anyone? Not really, was it right in what she did? No! absolutely not!
Do we help others to ensure safety into the Kingdom of God, like the manager to ensure safety in homes?
(Hebrews 13:16) Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
By the grace of God, everything has been provided for us with all we need, we do not have to be anxious about anything.
Each person is precious to God, in hard times and in good times, God is with us and will not forget us and we will be taken care of.
By Faith we realize that, sooner or later the time will come when possessing money will cease and the only thing, we will be focusing on is our salvation and the Kingdom of God.
Just like in the parable, the Prodigal son, God our father, rejoices when we return to him.
Rev. Lola Culbreath