Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trustworthy Children of Light

“….For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. ……………….If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?” ………..Luke 16: 8,9,11,12

Today in the Catholic liturgy we read the parable of the dishonest steward in Luke’s Gospel. This has been a very thorny issue for many to interpret as there seems to be justification of a dishonest behaviour on the part of the steward towards his Master. This section of the Gospel requires careful reading and understanding. (for those who want to read the parable, please read http://www.biblestudytools.com/nrs/luke/16.html )

In the matters of the world, the standard for ethical evaluation depends mainly on the community and culture in which we are rooted. For example, taking a tribal wife and a wife through religious practice is acceptable among some tribes in Africa. There are two clear ethical standards namely; one which is legal and hence determined by those who write the laws and the other which is moral. A moral ethical standard is determined by values that empower a person to elevate one’s consciousness to a higher level through following a particular set of ethical codes. The act of taking many wives is ethically acceptable from a legal dimension but how you take care of their physical and spiritual wellbeing is the moral ethical dimension which is primary concern in our worldly life.

If we analyse the incidence in the parable though the dishonest servant had underwritten the debts of the master’s clients, he seem to be acting on two basic premises, both of which are appreciated by the master. In accordance with a legal ethical dimension, the master is ready to ignore this very minor transgression (and treat it as an exit package) due to his immense wealth and form a moral ethical dimension, by using that favour, buying into a friendship which would ensure the future security in the light of the steward loosing his employment with the master, is validated as a positive act.

It is in this context, what Jesus says to his disciples is very thought provoking. It is not the act, depicted in the parable, itself but the principle behind the episode is to be taken into consideration. Jesus qualifies this by saying “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings”

All the material comforts, the knowledge and relationships which this world can offer and which Jesus calls ‘dishonest wealth’ have to be utilised for seeking our true and eternal nature. The comparison to the children of this world and the children of light is the intended target audience of the teaching. The people who were listening to Jesus were the Disciples and the Pharisees. In the Hebrew tradition the Pharisees were the chosen teacher of Divine wisdom, the children of light, but they miserably failed due to a hypercritic life they were leading. All their material wealth was used for self glory. The Disciples of Christ, who were the chosen children of the light under the new covenant, should not fall into the same trap of being sucked into the false realities which the material world offers.

Jesus also qualifies that unless we are trustworthy with worldly wealth, spiritual wealth cannot be entrusted to us. This establishes the seamless link between the wealth bestowed on each one of us through our body, mind, our fellow beings and the environment and the spirit that empowers all that is manifest and unmanifest. This is the concept of Deep Ecology put forth by Christ in all his wisdom. With this knowledge there is no dichotomy in ownership.

This is the same principle which was stated in the very first verse of Isa Upanishad. Please see my post http://blog.livingspark.net/2010/08/protection-through-renunciation.html

As followers of Christ, we are also the children of light and should heed to this teaching so that what the world has offer may be used for gaining the eternal friendship of the Divine.

Love to you all

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