The Unjust Steward and Wide Awake

At Latin mass this morning, we had political priest.  He preached about the parable of the unjust steward, which appears in Luke 16. 

In this parable, a rich man hears that his steward has wasted his goods, so he calls the steward to give an account.  The steward, fearful that he will lose his job, makes preparations for a life of unemployment (since the steward doesn’t feel that he’s capable when it comes to manual labor).  Because the steward can transact business in the rich man’s name, he has the authority to reduce the debts of those who owe oil or wheat to the rich man.  And that is what the steward does, in hope that the debtors will receive him into their houses once he loses his job.  The rich man, hearing of this, commends the unjust steward for his wisdom.

Jesus draws many lessons from this parable: that the children of this world are wiser than the children of light; that we should make friends of unrighteous mammon, that (when we fail) they may receive us into everlasting habitations; that those who are faithful in least will be faithful in much, and so we should demonstrate our ability to handle true riches by being faithful with our unrighteous mammon; and that we cannot serve God and mammon.  (I draw here from the language of the King James Version.)

To be honest, I really don’t understand the lessons of this parable.  There doesn’t appear to me to be a clear line connecting the parable and Jesus’ applications of it.  But perhaps I’m missing something.

But the priest drew this lesson from the parable: the steward was anxious to save his own skin, and, similarly, we should be zealous about God, our own salvation, and the salvation of others, for God will require us to give an account as to how we have handled the gifts he has given us. 

I don’t care for sermons like this: “Be zealous!”; “Be anxious about your salvation!”  I haven’t thought for a long time about how I use the gifts that God gives me.  I write my thoughts in this blog, and that’s one way I can influence others, so I assume that I’m doing something with my writing talent and any spiritual insights that I might have.   And, in my own way, I pursue after God, through my weekly quiet times and my daily devotional readings.  Is that good enough?  Why should I care?  If God is a taskmaster who can never be pleased, why would I be zealous or enthusiastic about him? 

I watched the 1998 M. Night Shyamalan movie, Wide Awake, today.  The last time I saw it was about three years ago, and I wrote this post about it: Wide Awake.

This movie is relevant to the priest’s homily because it’s about a young boy’s intense search for God.  This young boy, Joshua, really wanted to find God after the death of his grandfather, probably because that would assure him that his grandfather was all right—in the afterlife.  Joshua was anxious in his search for God, the same way that the unjust steward was zealous to save his own skin.

I thought: Am I looking for God, or am I looking for what I’m looking for, such as inner peace, or something that makes sense of life, or the ability to love, or happiness?  I’d like to think that God is consistent with these things.

An interesting point in the movie is that we must find our own proof for God’s existence.  Joshua’s friend in the movie was a skeptic, but he came to faith when he was having an epileptic seizure, and Joshua happened to walk into the room at that point.  The epileptic boy saw that as an indication of God’s care for him, but Joshua viewed it as sheer coincidence.  What was proof to one person was not adequate proof for another.  But Joshua got to experience his own proof.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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