Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 15:14-21; Luke 16:1-8)
A group of pastors was discussing a gospel passage much like the one we read today. The ministers were taken aback by the implication that people should act out of self-interest. Is an action worthy, the ministers seemed to ask themselves, if one gains personal benefit from it?
The ministers were questioning from the perspective of an imminent Lutheran bishop, Anders Nygren. Intolerant of self-love, Nygren drove a wedge between it and divine love. He termed acquisitive, human love eros and selfless, divine love agape. According to Nygren, human love is always unworthy of those redeemed by Christ. He would see such an act as indicative of fallen human nature.
But Nygren’s thesis does not adequately account for how humans are created. We are people with real needs. Beyond physical necessities we need support and assurance. Having a destiny beyond the troubles of earthly life, we work for this end. This means that we strive for perfection out of a desire for eternal life. Jesus’ parable tells of a man who takes risks so that he may not suffer in the future. In like manner we love the poor, God’s special concern. We do not want to lose the eternal life which Christ promises us.