If anyone had a right to boast, it was St. Paul. A prolific writer, eloquent speaker, man of great charisma…the guy had it all. But he would never boast of himself. In today’s first reading from Romans 15, he says, “For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me…” He certainly knew from whence all his gifts came.
The parable in today’s Gospel passage from Luke 16 can seem very confusing. It is about a dishonest steward that his master is going to fire. When the steward gets word of this, he begins cutting deals with the people who owe his master. He knocks a big chunk off of everyone’s debt. Then the master commends the steward for his prudence. Huh? Well let me try to clear it up. In ancient Palestine, stewards acted as middlemen, adding on a usually large fee as commission for a debt. So when the steward knocked off those large amounts, he was, in essence, forgoing his own commission in order to endear himself to the debtors. So, everyone won…the debtors had their debts reduced, the steward won their allegiance and the master suffered no loss.
Jesus ends the parable with, “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.” You see, the dishonest steward was willing to forego short term gain for long term benefits. He let his commissions go so that, when he was out of a job, the people for whom he wrote down their debt would take him in. Should we not act in the same way regarding eternity?
Father, help us to be prudent servants. Help us to think about the long term – eternity. Amen.