Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
I’ve always had an issue with today’s Gospel. It seems to me that Jesus could very easily be thought to be saying something I would be uncomfortable saying. Here a guy who is cheating his master, and the master commends him (the “dishonest steward”) for acting prudently.
A kind of “honor among thieves,” it would seem.
Maybe that is the key, a story in the context of a world that is not perfect. A master who, in this case, maybe doesn’t represent perfectly the same Father that sometimes is represented in Jesus’ stories as the Master, Groom, King, or Landowner. Maybe in this case Jesus is stretching us a little to find glimpses of truth even in that part of our world where truth is sometimes hard to find. Maybe even in ourselves.
God brings good out of evil despite our world everyday. Perhaps you have known this in your own life. Where God seems farthest away you suddenly catch a glimpse of him. Of course, he doesn’t move, we do, so the distance must somehow be due to us.
This idea of perfection can be the most difficult one, at times, when we hold ourselves to a rule that demands perfection. But, as always at some point, we realize that only God is perfect, that he has given us a Church as the place where we, as a community, can help one another as instruments of God’s grace to be perfected. That we can exercise the Cardinal Virtue of prudence — that which orders the other Cardinal Virtues of justice, fortitude and temperance — work with our limited gifts and use them to return to God a greater yield of gifts, of grace, of glory.
You see, all these stories of gifts and expected returns, the whole Gospel concept of talents being given out doesn’t hinge on how many you start with. It has everything to do with what you do with what you have been given, and in prudence, use our equal potential to make equally pleasing returns to God, even though they may not be quantitatively the same.
How many times have we learned that the judgment of comparison is an unworthy exercise? Since we were children. Yet how often do we not try because it seems “unfair” that someone got a better deal than we did? It isn’t a matter of fairness; it is a matter of what you did with what you were given. When we speak of our gifts and how we use them, we often use the word “stewardship”; for people of faith, I prefer the word “discipleship” as a more fitting synonym, because as students of faith (the word “disciple” means “student” in its Greek origin), it is as followers of Christ that our lives and the fruitfulness of our lives take on a new meaning. A great purpose that goes beyond ourselves and connects us to a responsibility to the care of all of God’s people, the goodness of his creation that surrounds us, the task of helping one another to get to heaven.
Then the phrase from the Gospel today, “The one who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” begins to make more sense. We all realize, in our small way, the same great process which, in Christ, allowed for our forgiveness and salvation.
We live the life God gave us, and we live it as best we can, and in this small way we realize our potential.
Make connections this Parish Life Weekend with God’s call to you, and stop before and after Masses and make a connection with people in the parish who invite you to get involved in the work of Christ in our parish and community. There are so many small ways to answer this call of God to much greater things.
God bless you.