Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Today's parable speaks about another person who is squandering property that does not belong to him. (Remember the younger son in last week's Gospel?) The man in today's parable is the manager of a rich man's property and he has not been living with integrity, he has not made good choices about how to care for the master's riches. When the rich man realizes what has been happening, he decides to fire the manager.
This is not a parable about repentance exactly, because we do not see the manager falling to his knees and asking to be forgiven. Instead, he goes to the people who have not paid the master for his property they've bought, and reduces their bills. This doesn't really help the rich man, but it would make the other people feel better about the manager, and make them more likely to give him a place to live when he loses his job. That is his plan.
The rich man is somewhat impressed with this action. He sees that the manager is taking some positive action. He is acting shrewdly. I had to look up "shrewdly" -- it means he was using sharp powers of judgement. (Right judgement = good choices = counsel = gift of the Holy Spirit.) The man's actions don't fix what he did wrong, but they are a step in the right direction.
the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light
Who are these children of light Jesus is talking about? Us, of course! We are children of the light of Jesus' risen life that we receive at our Baptism. So what does he mean when he says we are not as shrewd as the children of this age, as shrewd as the manager in the parable?
As children of light, we know that if we squander the Father's property, if we make bad choices, if we sin, we can always, always, go to God and be forgiven. If we do not go to God and ask forgiveness, that is not very shrewd. Also, if we don't make an attempt to make things better with those around us, that is not very shrewd either. It is not using sharp judgement. It is not using right judgement. We can't make things all better -- only God can do that -- but we can take a step in the right direction.
Look at this branch on a tree that grows in my backyard. Look how it grew away from the trunk for awhile, parallel to the ground. It is as if it was not growing toward the light. And yet, it makes a turn, almost like turning a corner, and now it stretches up towards the sky, towards the light.
We can be like that branch, we can be like the manager. When we realize that we have not been making good choices, we can act. We can take a step towards God again by attempting to make things better for the people around us.
Let us go this week, acting shrewdly, attempting to make things right with God's help.