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Conducting business and the Gospel

Conducting business and the Gospel

Jesus Christ
Oral and written tradition
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The meaning for today

From ‘Notes on the Formation of the Gospels’, by John Wijngaards;
published in Background to the Gospels (Bangalore & Ann Arbor 1981)
and Together in My Name (London 1991).

Luke has a great interest in the theme of material possessions, in the contrast between rich and poor. Leaving aside other implications, we may note how Luke appeals directly to people’s experience of conducting business. While drawing in this on Jesus’ teaching, he gives it sharper relief. Here too the image of the shrewd business man or business woman takes on a deeper symbolism.

  • A rich landlord knows how to build larger stores for his harvest, but he has not learnt how to be ‘rich for God’ (Luke 12,12-21).
  • The unjust manager of an estate who ensures future support for himself by cheating his landlord, teaches us to be as clever in the affairs of God as people are in the affairs of the world (Luke 16,1-12).
  • Those entrusted with the management of people and property are expected to produce results. The same applies to responsibility in God’s Kingdom (Luke 12,35-48).
  • Just as we should calculate the cost of building another story on our house, so should we be aware of the cost of becoming Jesus’ disciple (Luke 14,25-30).

Luke selected with preference texts from Jesus’ teaching in which skilled workers and professional people are held out as examples. It reflects the group of active Christians for whom he is writing.

Read about this theme in: L.T.JOHNSON, The Literary Function of Possessions in Luke-Acts, Missoula 1977; id., Sharing Possessions: Mandate and Symbol, Philadelphia 1981.

John Wijngaards

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