A wild parable “gospels” this weekend! I like using the word “gospels” as a verb. Jesus makes us chew over how a dishonest steward used “his wits” to survive another day and ensure future employment. We get to use prayer. He was witty, even after being caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
At first glance, this story is baffling. The main character is not a hero. He is a crook. Why would Jesus recommend the strategies of this shady character? Despite all his dishonesty, the man represents someone who is smart enough and quick enough on his feet to ensure a future. “I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.” At least he is honest with that part of his dilemma.
Through this story, Jesus urges his followers to do the same. Maybe he’s telling us to act, to be fast on our feet. Make decisions. Cut the debts (real or imaginary) that people owe us and the ones we think they owe to God! We do not steward the master’s debts. God is always releasing we human sinners from all we owe. Jesus invites us to be as intensely concerned about our ultimate fulfillment in the reign of God, as this con man was about his. Doing business in this company requires taking care of the poor and indebted. It means investing in trust and truth.
The United States Church celebrates this weekend as “Catechetical Sunday.” Pope Francis will celebrate a Jubilee for catechists on September 25th in St. Peter’s Square. We honor and thank all the catechists and teachers who devote their lives to handing on the gift of faith. Learning what the essentials of our faith really are – begins in the home with parents, grandparents and caregivers. They are our first teachers through word and action. They are also the first to pass on values that can be permanently implanted in the hearts of children. This is a huge investment.
Our Catholic school system reached out to millions of families in the great immigrant era of US Catholicism to pass on the principles and values contained in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. It was miraculous what the school system of St. Mary’s accomplished in the first hundred years of our history. Many of us alums are products of those schools. Now we stand in a great transition for Catholic education. Our faith calls us to be fast on our feet for the next generation. We honor the teachers from our parish in the different school systems. We need idea and new ventures to make this equitable. And new heroes.
The dishonest steward used his wits to get what he wanted. We get to use prayer. God’s Spirit is available for this enterprise. “To boldly go where we have not been. A big “abrazo” to all our catechists.
A gentle week.
Fr. Michael Weldon, OFM
Our thanks to Celebration’s Deacon Ross Beaudoin for parts of the above reflection.