Reflection on the Gospel-25th Sunday in Ordinary Time C (Luke 16:1-13)

In her insightful and engaging work, Dancing with Strangers, Melbourne-based historian Inga Clenninden offers a new perspective on the famous incident of the spearing of Governor Arthur Phillip at Manly Cove on September 7, 1790. The ‘accident’ at Manly was no accident, she argues, but a carefully staged and brilliantly executed response to the indignities inflicted by the British, albeit unwittingly, on the local inhabitants. The hero at Manly Cove is Baneelon (later known as Bennelong) who secures, for a time at least, the honour and survival of his people. He does so with all the cunning, if not the subterfuge, of the steward in Luke’s parable, and wins an uneasy approval. An ever present motif in the story of these early British-Australian encounters is the understanding of possessions and land peculiar to each.