St John the Baptist,

Hall Drive, Hagley


St Saviour's,

Park Road, Hagley

Charity Commission Registration: 1132263


The Benefice of Hagley and Clent

Tel: 01562 886363
Email the Office:


Rector: Richard Newton                01562 882442

Associate Priest: Kim Topham      07952 162 373


Hagley Parish Safeguarding Officer - Mrs Jenny Moulder
01562 883666 /
Clent Parish Safeguarding Officer - Mrs Natalie Baker
07983400811 /
Safeguarding Policy is on display in all Churches






A Reflection 


                                                                            A Reflection for Trinity 14 (Lk 16.1-13)


One of the constant themes in Luke’s gospel is the use of wealth.  Today’s Gospel collects together three teachings by Jesus on different aspects of wealth.  The first is a parable – which people either refer to as The Parable of the Dishonest Steward, or The Parable of the Shrewd Steward, depending on the way you look at it – (whatever we call it) it’s a parable about quick thinking.  The second is a saying about faithfulness.  And the third is teaching about God and wealth.


Imagine that you’re a manager who’s about to get the sack because you’ve been too slack with money.


You sit in your office as the owner walks in.  You know what’s going to be said.  You’ve seen last year’s results and realize that things haven’t gone well.  You were far too easy on the firm’s debtors.  You wait for the inevitable words from the owner: “Get the accounts up to date, and go”.  You have that sinking feeling inside.  What are you going to do next?  There are not many other lines of work that you’ve got the necessary qualifications for.  You’re going to need friends if you’re going to find another job.


You watch the owner leave the property, and you return to your desk.  You get on your phone and dial up the debtors, one by one.  You’ve got to be ready to do a deal to receive payments in kind.  You’ve got to act quickly – there’s no time to lose.  The only thing that’s going to work is to cut out all the margins for yourself, and to insist on prompt payments.


The debtors come in to see you, one by one, and they all come up trumps.  You usually make 100% profit on the olive oil, but there’s going to be no margin for you this time.  Your owner will take it all.  But after delivery, the olive oil merchant slaps you on the back for such a great discount, and invites you back to their shop any time you like.


You usually make 20% profit on the wheat, but there’s going to be no money in it for you this time.  Your owner will take it all.  The farmer though, is really pleased and says you’re a great mate!  And so it goes on all day.  When evening comes, you’ve made absolutely no money, but you’ve got lots of friends.


So it’s done!  You’ve been decisive and smart, even under enormous pressure.  Everyone is a winner.  The owner has got a good return, the debtors have a good discount, and you’ve little money but a great many invaluable friends.  In the end friendship is more important than wealth.


This parable leaves many people completely confused.  Paula Gooder – the popular biblical scholar and writer – says “This has to be one of the trickiest and hardest to understand of all the parables.  So hard, in fact, that there is almost no agreement at all about what it means or how we should interpret it.”  The reason it’s so difficult is because it seems to be illogical to praise dishonesty and then to go on to teach about faithfulness and honesty.  Surely, we protest, God can’t be applauding sharks in the business world, who give away what belongs to others.


But is that what’s happening?  A parable is a story which illustrates the punch line within it.  This parable is about quick thinking, and being smart.  The manager takes a quick decision in an extreme situation.  Similarly, the early church lived in a time when swift and courageous action had to be taken in extreme situations – situations such as persecution, and expulsion from one’s family, on account of being called to serve the kingdom of God. 


Jesus’ call is to decisive action along with a certain amount of shrewdness.  In the disturbed world of our times, this strange story may well speak afresh.  We may need to be more decisive than we’re used to, or perhaps we’re comfortable with.  We may be called to reassess what we value, and at short notice. There may be times when friendship can be more valuable to us than wealth.  True friends value us for who we are, not for what we have.  Is not this the way with God?  We’re challenged to reflect on the way we use who we are, and what we possess, to bring transformation to where God has placed us.  It’s easy for us to separate the sacred from the secular – but God doesn’t appear to make that distinction.







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