How can we break the money rules?
This week we hear Jesus tell a parable about a rich man and his "dishonest manager." In the story we are told that there is a rich man who has accumulated his wealth by lending goods like olive oil and wheat to people and collecting interest on those debts. We are also told that the person handling the accounting of those debts has been stealing money from the rich man's profits. When the rich man finds out he tells the accountant that they are going to be fired. So the accountant goes out and decreases the debts of the various debtors in order to garner favor with them. The whole things ends with Jesus telling people to use their dishonest wealth to make friends so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into the "eternal homes." What, though, is dishonest wealth? The word in Greek that is translated as "dishonest" is actually the word for "unjust," so really Jesus is talking about wealth that has been accumulated unjustly. As we see in the story, the rich man is rich through predatory lending, stealing from those indebted to him who have to borrow because of the unjust economic systems imposed on them the the oppressive powers of empire. The rich man grew wealthy by preying on those most vulnerable. The manager then steals this stolen money, and goes even further when caught to reduce the unjust debts of the people who owe the rich man. Jesus is highlighting the ways that the economic systems of the world lead to injustice and how the way to resist this injustice is to break the "rule" we have about money in our world. We have been told that accumulating wealth is the goal of our lives. That we are independent of one another and need to earn our own way through the world. Jesus says here that all the wealth is unjust, has been accumulated through exploitation and oppression of people, and to resist this we must break the rules. Clear debts with reckless abandon. Share resources with disregard for sound financial principles. How can you break the "money rules" you have been taught to abide by today for the sake of Jesus' more egalitarian vision? How can breaking the money rules build relationships and community where there was once only injustice?