Today’s parable is a difficult one to understand and interpret. The steward is in a position of trust, and he uses his position dishonestly for his own benefit. Yet he is praised ‘for his astuteness.’
We should consider the situation of Jesus’ disciples. They lived in a grossly unequal society, where working people were ruthlessly exploited and heavily taxed by those who were wealthy and powerful. The words of the prophet Amos, denouncing injustice against the poor, were still relevant in the Lord’s time. So perhaps those hearing the parable would assume that the master had acquired his wealth unjustly, and that the steward was simply redressing the balance in favour of the poor people who were in debt to him. Certainly, the master seems to act ruthlessly in sacking his steward after an accusation of dishonesty. The deeper message of the parable is that we cannot serve two masters. If money is our master, we will be ruthless and even dishonest in our pursuit of wealth. If we are true disciples of Christ – children of light – we will give money its proper importance, and use it for good and worthwhile purposes.