Ingenuity, imagination, and Effort in the Spiritual Life
“For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”
A few years ago, a college student was convicted of smuggling several thousand pounds of marijuana into the country. The student had created quite an effective system for procuring and distributing the marijuana. The judge who heard the case did not sentence the student to jail — instead, the student was sentenced to set up and run a hospice for AIDS patients. The logic? The city needed the hospice, and the convicted smuggler had the organizational and business savvy to make it happen.
In today’s gospel by St. Luke, the unfaithful steward manages to avoid falling on hard times. Of course, our Lord presumes that we most certainly realize the immorality of the man’s behavior. What Jesus emphasizes and praises, however, is his shrewdness and effort: he tries to derive maximum material advantage from his former position as steward.
In saving our soul and spreading the Kingdom of God, our Lord asks us to apply at least the same ingenuity and effort as people put into their worldly affairs or their attempts to attain some human ideal. The fact that we can count on God’s grace does not in any way exempt us from the need to employ all available legitimate human resources even if that means strenuous effort and heroic sacrifice.
St. Jose Marie Escriva once commented, “What zeal people put into their earthly affairs: dreaming of honor and striving for riches, all bent on sensuality. Men and women, rich and poor, old, middle-aged and young and even children: all of them the same. When you and I put that same zeal into the affairs of our souls, we will have a living, operative faith: and there will be no obstacle that we cannot overcome in our apostolic undertakings.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus holds up the model of the shrewd manager in today’s Gospel not as an endorsement of larceny, but for his ingenuity in getting things done. In the parable, Jesus is asking why we are not as industrious or as dedicated in pursuing the lasting things of God as we are to the temporary and far less important things of the world. Our faith should challenge us to be as ingenious for the sake of God’s reign as we are in our careers and professions, to be as ready and willing to use our time and money to accomplish great things in terms of the Gospel as we are to secure our own security and happiness. Christ calls us to use the cleverness, skill and ingenuity of the wily steward to build the kingdom of God in our own time and place.
Mary, Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us!
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C
Sunday, September 18th, 2016
Luke 16: 1-13