November 7, 2008
Friday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 16: 1-8
Jesus said to his disciples, "A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, 'What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.' The steward said to himself, 'What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.' He called in his master's debtors one by one. To the first he said, 'How much do you owe my master?' He replied, 'One hundred measures of olive oil.' He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.' Then to another he said, 'And you, how much do you owe?' He replied, 'One hundred measures of wheat.' He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.' And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the gift of life. I did nothing to merit it, yet you freely bestowed it upon me. I have done nothing to deserve your saving grace, yet you offer it to me generously. Lord, you continue to shower your signs of love upon me. My only response can be one of loving gratitude, yet even that is a gift from you.
Petition: Lord, help me to use all my talents for the service of your Kingdom.
1. How Can Christ Praise Dishonesty?
It seems scandalous that Christ, Truth personified, would praise the dishonest dealings of the steward. His “good deeds” are actually theft: He is giving away what isn’t his. Yet, Christ isn’t praising the dishonesty itself, but the cleverness of the steward in his dishonesty. The steward realizes that he has few options and comes up with a practical solution that serves his own needs. Christ’s parable shows that our endeavors for good should involve all our faculties: intellect, will, imagination, memory, etc. Initiative, creativity and efficacy in action are virtues. These virtues don’t rectify the vice of the steward, but his actions teach us a lesson which we should apply in doing good. We must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
2. You Reap What You Sow
The dishonest steward cleverly won friends by his actions. Analogously, if a person repents of having robbed or defrauded someone, he is obliged by natural law to make restitution. If he is unable to repay the individual harmed, then that which was taken may be given to some charitable cause. You can’t say you’re sorry for stealing something and then hold on to it. You “make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth” by putting justice and charity before avarice (Luke 16:9).
3. How Much Do You Want It?
The saddest aspect of the entire parable is Christ’s tone of frustration regarding his followers: “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.” If we really want something, we find a way… period. It’s very easy to complain about the evils in society, but that does little good. While prayer is the most important means to combat evil, it is also true that God wants us to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Other groups are willing to make great sacrifices to see their religious, social and political programs become a reality. We must be willing to do the same. As he did with the apostles, Christ also sends us out to evangelize the world. As he told them, he tells us, “Take courage; I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, just like the parable of the talents, you will someday ask me to give account of all that I have received. Help me to engage myself fully in fulfilling your will. To give myself to you half-heartedly would be to cheat you, souls and myself. I realize I am weak and have a long way to go. With your help, I will be able to overcome the challenges I will face along the way.
Resolution: I will seek a practical solution to one difficulty about which I may be tempted to complain.
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