+ Pax et Bonum!
Perhaps how we behave, when we get in trouble, says more about us as God’s sons and daughters, then anything else. It is easier to be good, to be holy, when everything is going well. It is not always so easy to be good or to be holy when things aren’t going so well for us. What do we do when we make a mistake at work or at school? How do we behave when we get pulled over by the police, or questioned by the IRS, or asked to take responsibility for something that we didn’t do or some mess that we didn’t create? Do we get mad? Do we start making excuses? Do we lie, or cheat, or try and change the facts, to get us out of the situation? How hard it is still do the “right” thing when we’re being questioned specifically over what the “right” thing is! It is perhaps when our true character comes out.
A few years back, I got a “notice” from the IRS. Now, a “notice” is NOT an audit. However, when you get one, a “notice” very much feels like an audit. I should probably point out that while the Church is tax exempt, priests and all employees of the Church are NOT tax exempt. I have always paid my taxes just like you, I’ve always been honest on all my forms, and I’ve always filed my taxes on time. And I used to do my taxes all by myself. I got that “notice” and I was not happy. I thought of all the people getting away with grand larceny on their taxes, they send me a “notice”? I wanted to blame someone. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to cheat. In some ways, I wished that I had lied. But we got through it. We learned a lot. And I don’t do my own taxes any more. Still, it taught me a lot, and made me check my values. Do I always try and do the “right” thing?
Today we come to Mass, and Jesus tells us another parable, this one about a steward, a manager, who is in trouble with his boss. The steward is about to be fired. He is going to lose his job. And he coughs up this wildly concocted scheme to make himself look good, and to resemble a good person, by cutting the debts of all these folks who owe money to his boss. Now, obviously, he is not cutting his own debts. This owed money isn’t his. Essentially, he is giving away his boss’s money. But it works! Not only are all the debtors happy, because they are paying much less. But his boss is also happy, because at least the debtors are paying something, AND his employee is showing great initiative. The story doesn’t tell us whether or not the steward gets to keep his job or not, but because his boss was impressed and not angry, it’s kinda assumed that he does get to keep his job. This doesn’t sound right! And Jesus is telling this story AND it is in the Bible?!? Is this really the way that God wants all of us to act? No. That’s not the point of the story. Jesus says that people who are attached to this world, are much better at being clever at doing the wrong things, than what good people are, at being clever at doing the right things. Jesus is asking us to learn some creativity from bad people. If bad people can be so industrious in doing bad things, then why can’t good people be more industrious in doing good things?
The children of the Light, and that’s all of us, don’t come off so well in this parable. We must be prudent. We must be trustworthy. We must use all of our minds, all of our skills, we must use everything and anything at our disposal, to very smartly build the Kingdom of God. Look at the time, the energy, the planning, and the effort that bad people put into sinning and doing the wrong things. They do a lot of that because they don’t want to get caught. But God sees it all. God’s question for us today, is why aren’t we putting more time, more effort, more energy, more planning into doing good than what we do? Sometimes, I think as Christians, we just expect to sit back and that the Kingdom of God is just going to happen to us. That’s not the way that it works. We’ve got to get involved. We’ve got to get our hands dirty. We’ve got to do our part to make it happen.
The Gospel is right. We can’t serve two masters. Either we are of this world or we belong to God. You can’t belong to both. But we sure can learn some lessons from the worldly. Let us learn from them, without becoming like them. Let us keep our hearts focused on God.
+ May God bless us today, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!