Nothing gets our attention like a crisis. You’re driving a long
listening to music, thinking about the family gathering you are
going t,o when smoke starts billowing from under the car’s hood. Or,
more seriously: you go for your usual annual physical and the chest
X-Ray reveals a dark spot on your lung; you feel a tightness in your
chest and your left arm begins to tingle; it’s 3 am and your phone
wakes you, it’s your sobbing son or daughter; your company downsizes
and you lose your job; you get injured on the playing field and
there goes your hopes for an athletic scholarship; even more
distressing....the sudden death of someone you love.
At a crisis moment every thing else takes a back seat, while we
address the pressing issue at hand. We ask ourselves: "Now what will
I do?" "Do I have to handle this alone?" "Where can I turn for
help?" "What do I need to do before this day ends?"
If we have our wits about us, or someone is with us to give us
good counsel, we evaluate the situation; look over our physical and
emotional resources and try to respond as best we can. Because we
are people of faith, we surely pray for wisdom to know what we must
do and the strength to do it. (Someone asked a friend of mine, "What
is the simplest and best prayer?" And she responded, "Oh that’s
Nothing focuses us like a crisis, when we realize the pattern of
our accustomed lives has been changed for good and without our
An economic crisis, as many are experiencing these days because
of the trade war, can profoundly affect our lives. It was an
economic crisis that faced the steward/manager in today’s gospel. He
was caught, we are told, for squandering his master’s property. We
are not told how...or what he did.... Perhaps he was a thief.
Perhaps, he was just incompetent. We don’t know. But it was crisis
time for that steward. And we know there is nothing like a crisis to
make us focus on essentials and what’s right before our eyes.
Steve Covey wrote a best seller: "7 Habits of Highly Effective
It sold to a lot of people dealing with professional problems –
managers and executives. But it became a best seller. A a lot of
other people were drawn to it, because of what the title suggested.
They wanted to be, "highly effective people" in their daily lives
The very first habit Covey lists of highly effective people, would
fit the steward in today’s parable story. Highly effective people,
he advises, must "Be proactive, take the initiative and be
responsible." That’s our steward isn’t it?
He sees his job is about to end and he is in crisis. In a
desperately poor society laborers were a throw-away commodity,
easily replaced by other desperate laborers, if they got hurt, or
killed on the job. The steward admits, being a laborer is not an
option for him...he’s too soft. To go out on the streets and beg
would shame him and his family. Yes, he is in a crisis.
So, as Steve Covey suggests, he becomes PROACTIVE, TAKES THE
INITIATE AND ACT RESPONSIBLY. We heard what he did. While he was
still in his position as steward he discounted debts owed his
master. Sounds dishonest, doesn’t it? But what he probably did was
eliminate the commission due him from those debts. And in doing
that, he was making friends – those debtors would be grateful to him
and, he hoped, when he was dismissed, they would, "welcome me into
In case we missed what Jesus was suggesting, he says, "For the
children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own
generation than are the children of the light" That‘s what Jesus
calls us: "The children of the light!" He gives us an example of a
man who has a crisis, focuses on what he has to do and does it. And
then, it is as if Jesus is turning to each one of us who have heard
this story and says: "And what about you? Are you acting prudently
in your life – focusing on what and who are important? Or, are you
letting lesser concerns consume your best energies?"
Jesus isn’t telling us a parable about a shrewd business-minded
person as a lesson on how to be "highly effective people" at work.
Rather, he wants us to be, in Steve Covey’s terms, his "proactive
followers" – disciples who take the initiative and act responsibly
in our relationships with him and the world around us.
This is something we know: The world is a hard place to be a
Christian – raising a family is a balancing act; our jobs can demand
so much from us, and consume our best energies; relationships can
get neglected and become stagnant. Plus, with all that, it’s hard to
keep a balance and keep things focused on what is really important
and what’s the "small stuff."
Being a follower of Jesus is not a part time job, or a side
occupation – it is a full time commitment and covers all aspects of
our lives, not just what we commonly call our "spiritual lives." We
have to live in our world and have to evaluate the resources at our
disposal. How can we be creative in the use of what we have? Upon
hearing the challenge of today’s gospel, to be faithful in all parts
of our lives, we have to ask ourselves: What is my fundamental and
total identity: is it being a Christian? Then, how can I put that
into practice at all times and in all places?
At some moment we will all face a crisis of one kind or another.
Most of us know that already... from personal experience. We don’t
want to have to put off getting focused till a crisis forces us to
do so. We want to be "proactive, take the initiative and act
responsibly. It is our hope that at the end, Jesus will also find
our lives commendable and bless us for acting prudently – not just
when we were in crisis, but each day of our lives.
for a link to this Sunday’s readings: