Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. There
was a certain rich man, &c. By this parable, our Saviour advises his disciples to accompany their penitential works
with deeds of mercy to the poor. (Ven. Bede) --- There is a certain erroneous opinion, that obtains pretty generally amongst
mankind, and which tends to increase crimes, and to lessen good works: and this is, the foolish persuasion that men are not
accountable to any one, and that we can dispose as we please of the things in our possession. (St. Chrysostom) --- Whereas
we are here informed, that we are only the dispensers of another's property, viz. God's. (St. Ambrose) --- When, therefore,
we employ it not according to the will of our Master, but fritter and squander it away in pleasure, and in the gratification
of our passions, we are, beyond all doubt, unjust stewards. (Theophylactus) --- And a strict account will be required of what
we have thus dissipated, by our common Lord and Master. If then we are only stewards of that which we possess, let us cast
from our minds that mean superciliousness and pride which the outward splendour of riches is so apt to inspire; and let us
put on the humility, the modesty of stewards, knowing well that to whom much is given, much will be required. Abundance of
riches makes not a man great, but the dispensing them according to the will and intention of his employer. (Haydock) --- The
intention of this parable, is to shew what use each one ought to make of the goods which God has committed to his charge.
In the three former parables, addressed to the murmuring Scribes and Pharisees, our Saviour shews with what goodness he seeks
the salvation and conversion of a sinner; in this, he teaches how the sinner, when converted, ought to correspond to his vocation,
and preserve with great care the inestimable blessing of innocence. (Calmet) --- A steward, &c. The parable puts
us in mind, that let men be ever so rich or powerful in this world, God is still their master; they are his servants, and
must be accountable to him how they have managed his gifts and favours; that is, all things they have had in this world. (Witham)
Ver. 2. And
he called him, &c. Such are the words which our Lord daily addresses to us. We daily see persons equally healthy,
and likely to live as ourselves, suddenly summoned by death, to give an account of their stewardship. Happy summons to the
faithful servant, who has reason to hope in his faithful administration. Not so to the unfaithful steward, whose pursuits
are earthly: death to him is terrible indeed, and his exit is filled with sorrow. All thunder-stricken at these words, "now
thou canst be steward no longer," he says within himself, what shall I do! (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Ver. 8. And
the lord commended, &c. By this we are given to understand, that if the lord of this unjust steward could commend
him for his worldly prudence, though it were an overt act of injustice; how much more will the Almighty be pleased with those
who, obedient to his command, seek to redeem their sins by alms-deeds? (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- "Give alms out of thy substance,"
says holy Tobias to his son, "and turn not thy face from any poor person: for so it shall come to pass, that the face of the
Lord shall not be turned from thee. According to thy abilities be merciful. If thou hast much, give abundantly; if thou hast
little, take care, even of that little, to bestow willingly a little. For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward, for
the day of necessity. For alms deliver from sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness." (Tobias
iv. 7, 8, &c.) (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- Children of this world, &c. are more prudent and circumspect as to
what regards their temporal concerns, than they who profess themselves servants of God, are about the concerns of eternity.
--- Commended the unjust steward. Literally, the steward of iniquity: not for his cheating and injustice,
but for his contrivances in favour of himself. --- In their generation; i.e. in their concerns of this life. They apply
themselves with greater care and pains, in their temporal affairs, than the children of light, whom God has favoured
with the light of faith, do to gain heaven. (Witham)
Ver. 9. Make
for yourselves friends, &c. Not that we are authorized to wrong our neighbour, to give to the poor: evil is never
to be done, that good may come from it. (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- But we are exhorted to make the poor our friends before God,
by relieving them with the riches which justly indeed belong to us, but are called the mammon of iniquity, because
only the iniquitous man esteems them as riches, on which he sets his affections; whilst the riches of the virtuous are wholly
celestial and spiritual. (St. Augustine, de quæst. Evang.) --- Of the mammon of iniquity. Mammon is a Syriac word for
riches; and so it might be translated, of the riches of iniquity. Riches are called unjust, and riches of iniquity,
not of themselves, but because they are many times the occasion of unjust dealings, and of all kind of vices. (Witham) ---
Mammon signifies riches. They are here called the mammon of iniquity, because oftentimes ill-gotten,
ill-bestowed, or an occasion of evil; and at the best are but worldly, and false: and not the true riches of a Christian.
--- They may receive. By this we see, that the poor servants of God, whom we have relieved by our alms, may hereafter,
by their intercession, bring our souls to heaven. (Challoner) --- They may receive you into their eternal tabernacles. What
a beautiful thought this! What a consolation to the rich man, when the term of his mortal existence is approaching, to think
he shall have as many advocates to plead for his admittance into the eternal mansions of rest, as he has made friends among
the poor by relieving their temporal wants. The rich give to the poor earthly treasures, the latter return in recompense eternal
and infinite happiness. Hence we must infer, that the advantage is all on the side of the giver; according to the saying of
our Lord, happier is the condition of him who gives, than of him who receives. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. He
that is faithful in that which is least. This seems to have been a common saying, and that men judged of the honesty of
their servants by their fidelity in lesser matters. For example, a master that sees his servant will not steal a little thing,
judges that he will not steal a greater, &c. --- And he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that
which is greater. The interpreters take notice, that here temporal goods are called little, and spiritual
goods are called greater; so that the sense is, that such men as do not make a right use of their temporal goods, in
the service of God, will not make a good use of spiritual graces as they ought to do. See Maldonatus. (Witham)
Ver. 11. If
then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon; i.e. in fading and false riches, which are the occasion of unjust
and wicked proceedings. --- Who will trust you with that which is the true? i.e. God will not intrust you with the
true and spiritual riches of his grace. (Witham)
Ver. 12. And
if you have not been faithful in that which is another's: so again is called false worldly wealth, which passeth from
one to another; so that it cannot be called a man's own, who will give you that which is your own? i.e. how can you
hope that God will bestow upon you, or commit to your care, spiritual riches or gifts, which, when rightly managed, would
be your own for all eternity? See St. Augustine, lib. ii. qq. Evang. q. 35. p. 263. (Witham) --- That which is another's.
Temporal riches may be said to belong to another, because they are the Lord's; and we have only the dispensing of them: so
that when we give alms, we are liberal of another's goods. But if we are not liberal in giving what is another's, how shall
we be so in giving our own? Nothing one would have thought so properly belonged to the Jews, as the kingdom of heaven, the
preaching of the gospel, and the knowledge of heavenly things. But they were deprived of all for their infidelity in the observance
of the law, which was first intrusted to them. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. No
servant can serve two masters, &c. This is added to shew us, that to dispose of our riches according to the will of
the Almighty, it is necessary to keep our minds free from all attachment to them. (Theophylactus) --- Let the avaricious man
here learn, that to be a lover of riches, is to be an enemy of Christ. (Ven. Bede)
Ver. 14. Now
the Pharisees, &c. Christ had admonished the Scribes and Pharisees not to presume too much on their own sanctity,
but to receive repenting sinners, and to redeem their own sins with alms. But they derided these precepts of mercy and humility;
either because they esteemed what he commanded them to be useless, or because they thought they had already complied with
them. (Ven. Bede) --- The Pharisees considered temporal riches as true goods, and the recompense which God had promised to
such as observed his laws; they therefore laughed at the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which extolled liberality and alms-deeds,
and despised the Master who, on all occasions, testified his great regard for poverty in his discourses, in his conduct, in
the choice of his apostles, who were all poor, and had no pretensions whatever to exterior pomp or show. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Who
justify yourselves, &c. But our Lord, detecting their hidden malice, shews that their pretended justice is all hypocrisy.
(Theophylactus) --- But God knoweth, &c. They justify themselves before men, whom they look upon as despicable,
and abandoned sinners, and esteem themselves as not standing in need of giving alms as a remedy of sin; but he who shall lay
open the secrets of hearts, sees the base atrocity of that pride which thus blinds them, and swells within their breasts.
(Ven. Bede) --- Yes, all those exterior actions which appeared great, and which were admired by men, being vitiated with improper
motives and sinister designs, are an abomination in the sight of God. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. The
law and the prophets, &c. Not that the law was made void by the coming of John [the Baptist], but that what the law
and the prophets had taught, had been suited to the very imperfect dispositions of the Jews, who as yet were incapable of
relishing perfect virtue. At the coming of John, the gospel began to be preached, and this called men to a life of perfect
sanctity. (St. Thomas Aquinas) --- Our Saviour came not to destroy, but to fulfil the law and the prophets. (Matthew v. 17.)
Ver. 19. There
was a certain rich man, &c. By this history of the rich man and Lazarus, he declares that those who are placed in
affluent circumstances, draw upon themselves a sentence of condemnation, if seeing their neighbour in want, they neglect to
succour him. (St. Cyril, in Cat. Græc. patrum.) --- He that hath the substance of this world, and shall see his brother in
need, and shut up his bowels against him, how doth the charity of God abide in him? (1 John iii. 17.) A received tradition
of the Jews informs us, that this Lazarus was a beggar, then at Jerusalem, suffering in the most wretched condition
of poverty, and infirmity: him our Saviour introduces, to manifest more plainly the truth of what he had been saying (St.
Cyril, in Cat. Græc. patrum.) --- By this, we are not to understand that all poverty is holy, and the possession of riches
criminal; but, as luxury is the disgrace of riches, so holiness of life is the ornament of poverty. (St. Ambrose) --- A man
may be reserved and modest in the midst of riches and honours, as he may be proud and avaricious in the obscurity of a poor
and wretched life. --- Divers interpreters have looked upon this as a true history; but what is said of the rich man seeing
Lazarus, of his tongue, of his finger, cannot be literal: souls having no such parts. (Witham) --- In this
parable, which St. Ambrose takes to be a real fact, we have the name of the poor mendicant; but our Lord suppresses the name
of the rich man, to signify that his name is blotted out of the book of life: besides, the rich man tells Abraham, that he
has five brothers, who were probably still living; wherefore, to save their honour, our Lord named not their reprobated brother.
Ver. 22. Abraham's
bosom. The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death. (Challoner)
--- It was an ancient tradition of the Jews, that the souls of the just were conducted by angels into paradise. The bosom
of Abraham (the common Father of all the faithful) was the place where the souls of the saints, and departed patriarchs, waited
the arrival of their Deliverer. It was thither the Jesus went after his death; as it is said in the Creed, "he descended
into hell," to deliver those who were detained there, and who might at Christ's ascension enter into heaven. (Calmet)
See 1 Peter iii. 19. --- "Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham." (Matthew viii. 11.)
Ver. 25. It
appears from Philo, (de Execrat. p. 9, 37 b.) that the Jews not only acknowledged the existence of souls, and their state
of happiness or misery after this life, but also that the souls of the saints and patriarchs interceded with God for their
descendants, and obtained from them the succour they stood in need of. (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Between
us and you is fixed a great chaos, or gulf; i.e. God's justice has decreed, that the bad should forever be separated from
the good. We may here take notice that the Latin and Greek word, (ver. 22) translated hell, even in the Protestant
translation, cannot signify only the grave. (Witham)
Ver. 27. In
this parable we are taught an important truth, viz. that we must not expect to learn our duty from the dead returning to life,
nor by any other extraordinary or miraculous means, but from the revelation of truths, which have already been made known
to us in the Scriptures, and from those to whom the tradition of the Church has been committed, as a most sacred deposit.
These, say the Fathers, are the masters from whom we are to learn what we are to believe, and what to practise. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. If
they hear not, Moses, &c. We think that if we saw a man raised from the dead, who should tells us what he had seen
and suffered in another world, it would make more impression upon us than past miracles, which we hear of, or the promises
and threats of the prophets, apostles, and our blessed Saviour, which are contained in Scripture; but it is a false notion,
a vain excuse. The wicked, and unbelievers, would even in that case find pretexts and objections for not believing. (St. Chrysostom,
hom. iv.) --- They would say that the dead man was a phantom; that his resurrection was not real; his assertions nugatory.
When Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, the miracle was known, evident and public; yet we find none of the Pharisees converted
by it. They were even so mad as to enter into a design to kill Lazarus, to get rid of a witness who deposed against their
incredulity. How many other miracles did he not perform in their sight, which they attributed to the prince of darkness, or
to magic? Christ raised himself from the dead. This fact was attested by many unexceptionable witnesses. And what do the hardened
Jews do? They object, that his disciples, stealing away the body, maliciously persuaded the people that he had risen again.
Such is the corruption of the human heart, that when once delivered up to any passion, nothing can move it. Every day we see
or hear of malefactors publicly executed, yet their example has no effect on the survivors, nor does it prevent the commission
of fresh crimes. (Calmet) --- "We have also the more firm prophetical word; whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light
that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter i. 19.) --- We may learn
many very instructive lessons from this affecting history of Lazarus. --- The rich may learn the dreadful consequences
to be apprehended from riches, when made subservient to sensuality, luxury, and ambition. The poor may
learn to make their poverty and sufferings, however grievous to nature, instrumental to their future happiness, by bearing
them with patience and resignation to the will of heaven. The former are taught that to expose a man to eternal misery, nothing
more is required than to enjoy all the good things of this world according to their own will; the latter, that however
they may be despised and rejected of men, they may still have courage, knowing that the short day of this fleeting life, with
all its apparent evils, will soon be over; and that the day of eternity is fast approaching, when every one shall receive
according as he has done good or evil in his body. (Haydock)
 Ver. 8. Villicum iniquitatis, i.e. iniquum, oikonomon
 Ver. 11. In iniquo mammonâ, en
to adiko Mammona.
 Ver. 22. In sinum Abrahæ, eis ton kolpon tou Abraam.
--- Ver. 22. In inferno, en to ade. See Pearson on the Creed, (p. 236) and our Catholic controvertists.
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The parable of the unjust steward: of the rich man and
1 And he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who
had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods.
2 And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee?
Give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer.
3 And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, for my lord taketh
away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able: To beg I am ashamed.
4 I know what I will do, that when I shall be put out of the stewardship,
they may receive me into their houses.
5 Therefore, calling together every one of his lord's debtors, he said
to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord?
6 But he said: A hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy
bill: and sit down quickly, and write fifty.
7 Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: A hundred
quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill and write eighty.
8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done
wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
9 And I say to you: Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity,
that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.
10 He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in that
which is greater: And he that is unjust in that which is little, is unjust also in that which is greater.
11 If then you have not been faithful in the unjust mammon, who will
trust you with that which is the true?
12 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's: who
will give you that which is your own?
13 *No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one,
and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other: you cannot serve God and mammon.
14 Now the Pharisees who were covetous, heard all these things: and they
15 And he said to them: You are they who justify yourselves before men:
but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is high to men, is an abomination before God.
16 *The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the
kingdom of God is preached, and every one useth violence towards it.
17 *And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of
the law to fail.
18 *Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth
adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, commmitteth adultery.
19 There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen:
and feasted sumptuously every day.
20 And there was a certain beggar, by name Lazarus, who lay at his gate,
full of sores,
21 Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's
table; and no one did give him: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 And it came to pass that the beggar died, and he was carried by the
Angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell.
23 And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar
off, and Lazarus in his bosom:
24 And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send
Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.
25 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good
things in thy life-time, and likewise Lazareth evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is fixed a great chaos:
so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither.
27 And he said: Then, Father, I beseech thee that thou wouldst send him
to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren, that he may testify to them, lest they also
come into this place of torments.
29 And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them
30 But he said: No, father Abraham; but if one went to them from the
dead, they will do penance.
31 And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither
will they believe if one rise again from the dead.
13: Matthew vi. 24.
16: Matthew xi. 12.
17: Matthew v. 18.
18: Matthew v. 32.; Mark x. 11.; 1 Corinthians vii. 10. and 11.