Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Mount St. Mary's University
(9/17) On his long southbound to Jerusalem the city of his destiny. Jesus continues to teach his disciples. Among the disreputable characters who people the parables of Jesus this unjust, wily stewardóa rogue who grudgingly attracts
our admirationóis in a class of his own. His former employer, the landowner, even gives him a smile of approval. Today we are puzzled why Rabbi Jesus in telling this parable or story praises this unjust business manager and holds him up as an example for us.
What does such an unsavory character have to do with us? To come to grips with this difficulty we need to reconstruct the story.
Once upon a time a wealthy landowner discovered that his steward has squandered his property. We donít know what the steward or business manager had done---was he dishonest or simply incompetent? Perhaps he could have been tossed into
jail, but he was simply let go. Before he packs up, the landowner instructs him: "Figure out who owes me and how much." This assignment in some way leads the manager to get a bright idea. He thinks: "Iím not strong enough for physical laborómy hands are too
soft. Since Iím a white collar guyóIím not going to panhandle. Thatís beneath my dignity. But Iíve got a chance now to make up for what I had done early-on. I know what Iíll do. Before I hand over the books to my former employer, Iíll call in those who are in
debt to him. After all, they donít know Iíve been dismissed. As I cut new deals with them theyíll think that Iím reducing their original loan. In reality, Iím simply giving up the commission that I would normally get for this business. Iím cancelling my own
cut. If my former master doesnít restore my job to me, then perhaps one of these grateful debtors can take me in. They can care less how their debt is reducedóand theyíll go away giving me "high fives." They might even think that Iíve talked to the landowner
in giving them more favorable rates and maybe theyíll even praise him. What a story this will make --it could lead eventually to a write-up in the "Jerusalem Post."
Friends, the manager is acting against his own interests to provide for his future. When the landowner gets wind of whatís going on, he shakes his head in admiration: "Clever little fellow, my former manager. I fire the guy and he goes
ahead and trades on the disaster to secure his own future by renouncing his commission. End of the story.
The Lord Jesus holds up this business manager to serve as an example -- not insofar as his original dishonesty or incompetency was concerned---but rather as someone who prudently acts sharply in terms of his future interests. The focus
is then in terms of our acting prudently in terms of your and my deepest, ultimate interest -- to be eternally alive in unending life with Jesus.
The worldly-wise manager acts against his own present interests in doing a certain amount of violence to himself as he calculates and provides for his own future interest. Should not you and I in listening to the gospel message of
Jesus be willing to go against our everyday interests and provide for our deepest interest - eternal life in the radiant love of God for us? May we act prudently in giving some of our wealth away as alms to the poor. One day they will welcome you and me from
their privileged place in heaven to the fullness of the hospitalityóthe extravagant love of God for them and for us. As the manager looked forward to his own future, we and all "children of the light" need to be more keenly aware of our future and be as
practical as all-get-out by placing our complete trust in the Lord Jesus and his love for us as we respond to the needs of others. Once in a while, each one of us might find ourselves praying:
Father of Jesus, I get so . . . . .fogged up at times in trying to come to grips with your all-out love for me. I want to believe in your love, but at times I find it really hard to do so. And all too often I forget about it all. Yet
somehow I believe that Itís only in my awareness of your love for me that I can really come to grips with the mystery of myself and find myself. I trust in you that I can do this through the love that comes to me through other people, and especially through
Jesus, your Son. Help me always to respond to your love. Give me the deep desire to please you in whatever it is that Iím doing and in whatís going on in my life as l take care of my own needs and the needs of others. . . especially the poor. Help me to be as
practical as I can be in my efforts to live up to that desire. I think that if I do this, youíll take care of the rest.
Read other homilies by Father Paul