We all know this guy.
He always knows the right thing to say. He can talk himself out of any problem. He knows how far he can go; he has an uncanny ability to know when the deal is going south and how to save it.
He doesn’t care about the quality of the product he’s selling or the conscientiousness of the service he’s marketing — he could be selling a house or homeware, it doesn’t matter. He’s all about the sale — and his commission. His real product is himself.
We all know this guy.
You’re his best friend as long as your cheque clears. You’re a terrific human being because of what you can do for him. You can count on him — as long as you’re active on his client list. You can trust him — until you can’t.
We know this guy.
He’s mastered the ability to turn on sincerity and humility like a light switch. His life is a treadmill from one deal to the next.
Yeah, we know this guy.
We know his act — and still, we buy into it.
Because more times than we realize or care to admit, we are this guy.
The parable of the dishonest steward is for me one of the most problematic stories in all of the Gospel. At first reading, it seems that Jesus is commending the larceny of the steward, is he prudent, dishonest, clever, incompetent — or all of the above? Perhaps most disturbing is that deep inside we admire his ability to land on his feet — part of us would like to possess his nerve.
So why does Jesus hold this guy up as a model of anything positive or commendable?
Because of his ability and ingenuity to get things done. Jesus challenges us to be as ingenious for the sake of God’s reign as we are in our careers and professions, to be as ready and willing to use our time and money to accomplish great things in terms of the Gospel as we are to secure our own security and happiness, to open our hearts to the possibilities we have to build God’s Kingdom of compassion, mercy and peace in our time and place.
Profit and security are important, to be sure — but for disciples of Jesus, the good we are able to bring about, the work we are able to do in order to bring God’s reign of justice and compassion to reality, should be the motivating force in our lives. Our faith should challenge us to be as eager and as ingenious for the sake of God’s reign, to be as ready and willing to use our time and “wealth” to create God’s Kingdom of justice and peace as we are to secure our own security and happiness.