25th Sunday Year C
September 22, 2013
WISDOM IN TIMES OF CRISIS; PRUDENCE IN MOMENTS OF CHOICE
The parable in today’s gospel passage definitely sounds weird to modern ears. What is the point of the story? Is it OK to spend what is not yours to get yourself off the hook, just as the steward (manager) did? Is it OK to bribe everyone with your fake generosity in order to earn friends just in case you end up being jobless? These are just two of the many possible questions we can ask about the strange story that only Luke reports.
Let me premise my reflection by reminding you all of something we all know already … God can write straight with crooked lines. God’s ways are not man’s ways, and His teaching comes to us in a multiplicity of guises and a variety of packages, but the basic teaching is what we all need to understand, not the details, not the hows or the wherefores, but essentially the what.
I am sure you have experienced the like. One day, you find yourself all of a sudden face to face with a big crisis. You are at the crossroads. You are at a loss as for what to do. You are in front of a big dilemma. You have no choice about not doing anything and not acting on the big problem that stares you in the face. You must act and act promptly, but what exactly your action ought to be is not clear.
Here is where a possible clear teaching that emerges from the story can enter in. The steward or manager did not lose time agonizing about what to do. He decided promptly. He acted decisively. He behaved wisely yet prudently, taking into consideration all possible consequences. He was not one to be paralyzed by endless analysis of the situation.
Putting aside then, the usual moral questions that the story engenders in most minds, there is no denying the fact that the manager showed wisdom and careful calculation to meet the looming crisis headlong.
What then, does this have to do with our lives, right here, right now?
I would like to offer a suggestion …
The times we live in are definitely deeply steeped in crisis. We are torn between trying to make the earth productive so as to created legitimate wealth, and preserving the world of nature in the earth that is our only home. We are torn between being legitimately active in politics and being branded as people engaged in politicking. We want to serve the common good, but we also want to cater to our personal good. We want to earn legitimately, but we also want to amass wealth and raise our standard of living just a notch higher everytime. We want to live simply, but we also want to keep up with the Joneses, and live the ultimate dream of having a home worth 400 million pesos. We want to be down there dealing with humble stuff and moving around in our humble circles but we also want to be recognized, appreciated, and possibly become known by, and be popular to many people.
We want this and that, not this or that. We want so many things and our minds are divided between, even at times, conflicting allegiances!
I would like to suggest there is something the steward can teach us. He may have cut a few corners here and there, but no one can accuse him of not knowing what he wants. He knew what he wanted, and he was focused on getting what he wanted. He had the wisdom and the prudence to decide promptly and act quickly.
But then, here enters something else in the story that makes it truly intriguing and at the same time, interesting.
The Lord, no doubt, praised his prudence and quick thinking. But in the same breath, he offers a caveat, a warning, a reminder. Quick thinking and prompt action do not suffice. Something else is needed for us who claim to be children, not of this age, but of the light. For the manager, who, presumably belonged to the “children of this world,” such worldly prudence is becoming and praiseworthy for a steward, who, ought to be cunning enough to extricate himself from a crisis situation.
But here is the good news. We are not just ordinary earthly stewards. We are more than this. We are children of the light. And being such, something else, something more than just worldly prudence is needed. We need wisdom from above and that wisdom is not just an intellectual trait, but more of a spiritual trait. We need virtue. We need strong stuff that comes not only from earthly cunning and worldly calculation.
The Lord mentioned “trustworthiness” at least three times in the course of the passage. And that trustworthiness, related to “faithfulness” or fidelity ought to be a strong trait in all those who claim to be children of the light, and not of this age.
Are you a child of this world, or a child of the light? Think quickly. Decide promptly. Choose life, not death; choose light, not darkness. “You cannot serve God and mammon.”