Parables of Jesus


Parables of wisdom

Common name of the Parable:

- Dishonest administrator
- Unfair administrator

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The unfair administrator

From the Gospel of Luke Chapter 16, Verses 1-13

He also said to the disciples: "There was a rich man who had an administrator, and he was accused before him of wasting his possessions. He called him and said to him: "What is this I hear about you? Account for your administration, because you can no longer be an administrator". The administrator said to himself: "What will I do now that my master takes away my administration? Hoe, I have no strength, beg, I am ashamed. I know what to do because, when I have been dismissed by the administration, there is someone to welcome me into his house". He called the master's debtors one by one and said to the first: "How much do you owe my master?" he replied: "One hundred barrels of oil." He said to him, "Take your receipt, sit down and write fifty at once." Then he said to another, "How much do you owe?": "Take your receipt and write eighty." The master praised that dishonest administrator, because he had acted with cunningness. The children of this world, in fact, towards their peers are more clever than the children of light. Procure for friends with dishonest wealth, for when they fail, they will welcome you to eternal dwellings. Whoever is faithful in little, is faithful even in much, and whoever is dishonest in little, is dishonest even in much. you have not been faithful in dishonest wealth, who will entrust you the true one? And if you have not been good in the wealth of others, who will give you yours? No servant can serve two masters: he will either hate the one and love the other or become attached to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon".

Parabolic exegesis

The theme of wealth, Luke also confronts him in the parable of the "rich fool", through which we are put on guard by placing security in the possession of earthly goods and by supporting greed in pursuing them: "Beware and keep away from all greed, because even if one is in abundance, his life does not depend on his goods". (Lk 12:15). Even in the parable of the "prodigal son", Jesus warns us about the abyss of evil that can lead to the abuse of riches. Now, in the parable of the unfaithful administrator, he explains to us how the same riches, if well used, can benefit eternal health.

The main characters are two: the master, who turns out to be the sole owner of the goods mentioned in the story, therefore "the absolute lord", a title which par excellence was referred to God; and its administrator, who must manage these assets with respect to the debtors of his master and who therefore represents the "people" in relation to this "gentleman"; the whole story revolves around the figure of the latter, accused of having squandered the assets entrusted to him by management. A story that leaves us perplexed, not only for the praise that in the end the owner reserves for this administrator dismissed for his careless and non-transparent management, but also for the way in which the parable ends, leaving his own conclusion in abeyance: how did it end?

"There was a rich man who had an administrator, and he was accused before him of squandering his possessions. He called him and said," What is this I hear of you? Deliver your administration, because you can no longer be an administrator ". The rich represents God, the factor to represent all men, who out of respect for God are but administrators obliged to render accounts on the day of death.

This paper reports the theme of the judgment and sentence already issued: "And he called him," You give an account of your administration, because you will not be able to administer yet. "The master, acknowledged for true accusations against his factor that suggests a superficial behavior irresponsible, insane, instantly denies him the job of administrator, the factor of the parable behaves according to a modus operandi that is still current, based on the ephemeral, on appearing, on gaining power and dominating on others, but this behavior does not it is rewarding, given that the subsequent judgment and the subsequent sentence of conviction weighs on it.”What will I do now that my master takes away my administration? Hoe, I have no strength, beg, I am ashamed".

The administrator acknowledges that he is guilty, and feels that he is not capable of earning his bread by working the land, and having so far enjoyed a certain comfort, he is ashamed to go and ask for alms; he re-enters into himself, questions himself about his immediate future and here, as suddenly, the solution: "I know what to do because, when I have been dismissed by the administration, there is someone to welcome me into his house" Taking advantage of the same cunning that had led him to act dishonestly until that moment, immediately found a loophole to turn adverse events in his favor, at least for some time and at the expense of his own administrated, promising them great benefits.

He does not care that, in so doing, he brings new damage to the master, he thinks only of his future, of his possible salvation. "He called the debtors of the master one by one and said to the first [the two debtors reported here are used as an example of what he also did with the others]:" How much do you owe my master? "He replied:" One hundred barrels of oil "[which is equivalent to about 38 hectoliters]". And immediately the administrator suggested him to write, to correct the due on the receipt, declaring that he owed it for only fifty; puts him back half the debt. "Then he said to another:" How much do you owe? "He replied:" One hundred measures of wheat "[which correspond to about 550 quintals].

He said to him, "Take your receipt and write eighty", thus giving him one fifth of the actual debt. Doing so the master, who did not know the original debt, would have hardly discovered the fraud. In the end, this administrator did not even have he tried to appropriate the goods of his master: he had squandered them, but not stolen them, and these possessions do not even hold them for him, but he gives them to others, in the hope of making his lord's debtors debtor of himself, so that by the time he was removed from office, there would have been someone who, grateful for what he had obtained, would have welcomed him into his own home.

Unexpectedly the master praises that dishonest administrator, for the shrewdness with which he had acted. This means that he does not praise the injustice and the fraud committed, but the skill and the ingenuity with which he was able to make use of the last shred of that authority that was escaping him, in order to provide for his future. In this administrator humanity is depicted in its worldliness, which seeks only the realization in the things of the earth, negotiating between the darkness of ignorance and those of sin.

The unfaithful factor, in order to succeed in his intent, indeed needs the complicity of other debtors, of those who are certainly not "children of the light", that is, the disciples of Jesus, the true light of the world; in fact, they would have led him to procure heavenly goods, while his only objective - blinded as he was by the greed of the flesh - was to safeguard the last worldly goods granted to him. If therefore the master praises the ingenuity with which the factor knows how to procure friends for the days of misfortune, although this way of acting was both incorrect and also to his detriment, much more will be praised by God those who, with their riches, they will have tried to make the poor friends, benefiting them: "Well, I say to you: get yourself friends with dishonest wealth, because, when it comes to fail, they welcome you to the eternal dwellings".

The earthly riches we do not carry with us by coming into the world and we will not even take them with us in abandoning this world, especially as they can be taken away at any moment. Our inheritance, on the other hand, are spiritual goods, which cannot be taken away from us, which we can cultivate throughout our lives so that they bear more and more fruit and which we will keep with us forever, even when we rejoin the Father who has entrusted them to us to administer. "He who is faithful in little is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest in little is dishonest even in much. If therefore you have not been faithful in dishonest wealth, who will entrust the true one to you?"

Whoever has shown himself faithful in little, deserves to be entrusted to him to administer much, because even then he will prove himself faithful; while the one, who has been unfaithful in little, will easily be unfaithful in the very. Therefore, if in the administration of earthly riches we will not be faithful, that is, we will not use it as desired by God, we will not even be faithful in the use of spiritual and celestial riches, which are the graces of God. Administering the stuff of others, that is, temporal riches, deserves that God does not entrust His treasures to him, which are precious more than any other earthly good.

The message of the parable is therefore directed towards a conscious and spiritual use of material goods and of one's own earthly life: if spent on behalf of the brothers, it not only enriches us, but constitutes a useful currency for us to gain access to eternal life, which is life itself of God. Every moment of the present time, lived in this way, is decisive for our future in eternity: we never lose sight of this precious good, which God has allowed us to administer, and we remain faithful to him because "he who is faithful in little, he is faithful even in much "and, therefore, he will receive his just reward in Heaven.