A man who misused the money entrusted to him by his “master” is praised by jesus for his ingenious way of getting out of a dilemma. This is a strange gospel because jesus sheds light on the importance of being smart , or “shrewd” in the ways not only of the world but of the gospel. We don’t normally think of being shrewd as a gospel virtue, but it is and needs to be fostered.
Being shrewd is having the “foresight” to anticipate outcomes and responsibilities. Wisdom is at the heart of being shrewd. The steward in the gospel was smart and intelligent in how he explicated himself from personal shame by reducing the amount each debtor owed the master. Presumably, the steward used his own commission to reduce the individual amounts owed. Or maybe he was simply skimming money off the top all along. In any event, the master, and jesus himself, praised the steward’s cleverness. The man was a shrewd person, a quality I never associated with holiness, until now.
In matters of faith and religion, sometimes common sense and intelligence take a back seat to blind obedience and living mindlessly. St. Teresa herself praised intelligence, being clever and shrewd, over holiness , if she had to choose which qualities of a confessor she preferred. “If I can’t have a person with both holiness and intelligence and am forced to choose which is the more important virtue, I choose a smart and ingenious spiritual director,” she said in so many words.
Bold!!! She’d rather have a smart director who wasn’t holy, rather than a holy director who was dim witted.
Jesus wants us to be honest and trustworthy, but he also wants us to have foresight in the ways of the gospel so we can anticipate actions and their consequences. We must use intelligence and cleverness in being disciples. The Church must encourage us to use the intelligence God has given us to create s life of gospel living. For centuries, many of our leaders preferred keeping the masses of people quiet and submissive, especially women.
The ingenuity of ALL the people of the Church, rooted in deep faith, must be harnessed, creating a a powerful force of gospel witness. The church can be afraid of questions that search for answers rooted in the Tradition but spoken in ways meaningful to the present time. We gave to be clever and ingenious in how we apply some of the more difficult and confusing teachings. We can’t be afraid of new answers to these situations especially when it means developing the teachings in the Tradition. Development and evolution are a part of the church’s theological reflection and study.
Be “shrewd” for Christ!!! Find ways that you can spread the Good News that are inspiring, creative and rooted in intelligence.
Buen camino. Padre