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
3 thoughts on “The Shrewd But Dishonest Steward. November 7, 2014”
So it would seem from this that the Gospel injunction for us is to be shrewd, but honest (as opposed to being shrewd and dishonest). Thus the reality of being true to oneself should form the basis of any shrewd and wise, also prudent and careful, pursuit of the Gospel of Divine Love. Contrary to what some would hold as the pathway toward our fulfillment in the love of Christ Jesus, we do not exactly abandon ourselves to some unseen power outside of us. Rather we instead invite God to operate within, and to take over (as the prayer of Ignatius says) our memory, understanding and will, infusing them with His Love and Grace. Thus intelligence is not “lost” or “abandoned” but completed; made whole, by the One Who came not to condemn and abolish, but to bring to fulfillment.
Hi Frank, Hope all is going well. Really enjoyed your homily today, newsy of looking at that gospel. We are enjoying the warm Florida sun & reconnecting with our snowbird friends. When will you return to Chicago?
Peace Phyllis & George
Hi phyllis and george. Glad it is warm doen there because it is cold and damp in Santiago. I leave tomorrow for madrid snd them transfer to frankfurt germany snd thrn to chicago. Long travel days ahead. Back in chicago monday aftetnoon. Thanks be to God!!!! Peace and love. Frank