instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Trick Question

There are all sort of reasons -- some just, some not -- that might have led that person to shout to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."

Jesus cuts him off with a quick rhetorical question: "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"

Except that it's not altogether rhetorical.

The ordinary meaning of the question is, of course, that Jesus is not their judge and arbitrator, and therefore He's not going to get involved in who does what with the inheritance.

At the same time, it so happens that the Father has appointed Jesus as our judge. So another meaning to Jesus' response is, "Before you ask for My ruling, you'd better make sure you're prepared for the court in which I serve."

The Parable of the Rich Fool, which follows the above exchange, is therefore not simply another passage on the theme of worldly riches that St. Luke concatenated with the story of the disinherited brother. It is, so to speak, divine counsel from the bench to help prepare both brothers for the one judgment that really matters. In a parabolic way, Jesus says, "One day I will judge and arbitrate the dispensation of the inheritance, and I will do it according to the wisdom of My Father. Go, then, and prepare your case."