The bad manager wasting things (Lk 16:1-16:1)

“Jesus said

To the disciples.

‘There was a rich man

Who had a house manager.

Charges were brought

To the rich man

That this manager

Was squandering

His property.’”

 

Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον, καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable story about the dishonest household manager or steward can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories.  Luke indicated that Jesus said to his disciples (Ἔλεγεν δὲ καὶ πρὸς τοὺς μαθητάς) that there was a rich man (Ἄνθρωπός τις ἦν πλούσιος).  He had a manager of his affairs, a household manager, a steward, or a guardian (ὃς εἶχεν οἰκονόμον).  Luke used this unique Greek word οἰκονομεῖν, meaning household manager.  Although traditionally, he has been called a steward in English, household manager seems more correct.  However, charges were brought to the rich man (καὶ οὗτος διεβλήθη αὐτῷ).  This Greek word διεβλήθη is found once in the New Testament literature, only here in this story or parable of Luke.  The word διεβλήθη means slander, complaint, or accusation.  Someone had accused this manager of squandering or wasting this rich man’s property or possessions (ὡς διασκορπίζων τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ).  This rich man had a house manager taking care of his possessions.  Apparently, it was reported to him, that his manager was not doing a good job and may have been taking some of his property.  It is not exactly clear, but there were some problems.  Have you ever had a problem with someone who was to manage something for you?

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The Qumran prayer of thanksgiving (Sir 51:13-51:20)

“Give thanks to the good Lord!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of praises!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the guardian of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who formed all things!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the redeemer of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who gathers the dispersed of Israel!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who rebuilt his city and sanctuary!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who makes a horn to sprout

For the house of David!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who had chosen the sons of Zadok

To be priests!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the shield of Abraham!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the rock of Isaac!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the mighty one of Jacob!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to him who has chosen Zion!

His mercy endures forever.

Give thanks to the King of the kings of kings!

His mercy endures forever.

He has raised up a horn for his people.

Praise for all his loyal ones.

The children of Israel praise the Lord!

The people close to him praise the Lord!”

This is called the Qumran hymn of thanksgiving because this Hebrew hymn was found in a Qumran cave there, but not in the Greek text. It is very reminiscent of Psalm 136, with the repeated chant of “his mercy endures forever.” However, they are thankful for other things than in Psalm 136. Obviously the Lord is good and merciful. The Lord is the guardian and redeemer of Israel who formed all things. However, he now has gathered the dispersed Israelites. He has rebuilt the Temple and the sanctuary. He has protected the royal sprout of David, but also the priestly sons of Zadok. The Lord also gave the shield of Abraham, the rock of Isaac, and the mighty Jacob. He chose Zion for the king of kings. He raised up a horn of plenty for his people and those loyal to him. Thus the children of Israel and those close to him should praise the Lord.