The steward in today’s Gospel was praised by both his master and Jesus. Those who uphold honesty as a vital Christian virtue, find it hard to comprehend Jesus’ reason for appreciating the dishonest steward. If we look at this passage in light of all the Gospels, we may see motives to admire Jesus’ approach.
In Luke Chapter 12:42-48, Jesus gives a parable about the faithful and prudent servant. In the parable, Jesus says that when the Faithful servant’s master returns and finds him working hard and diligently, the master will reward the servant for being faithful. Most of the time people put much effort into worldly things to make their lives comfortable and secure – acting ‘more prudently’, even through dishonesty. Jesus, in a way makes us reflect on how much more we need to work faithfully to secure what is lasting and eternal.
Jesus made a distinction between people and their acts. Though He condemned very sinful acts, He saw in every person the unique image of God. He condemned the sin but never the sinner. In a similar fashion, Jesus makes the distinction between the canny act of the steward and his use of intelligence to solve the problem. Jesus appreciates the steward’s practical knowledge and his brilliance which he deployed to safeguard his future. There is no doubt that Jesus certainly would have condemned his hypocritical behavior.
Jesus gives us a clarion call to organize our brilliance to safeguard our life for eternity. The shrewd steward found his future was at risk and acted immediately to guard it. We are called to keep within our sight our eternal life and advised to act promptly, using all our virtues to secure it. Let us remember our last Sunday’s parable – there is much Joy in heaven when a sinner like us makes it to heaven.
–Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD