25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
The manager in the parable this Sunday is probably one of the most crooked characters in the all the parables of Jesus: selfish, dishonest, shrewd, forger, unjust and most especially devious. It is most unlikely that Jesus would ever praise such a character which is the complete opposite of goodness, nevertheless it gives us a lesson in handling an unexpected crisis most especially when eternity is at stake.
The employer upon knowing the manager had wasted away his wealth decided to fire him outright. But because of the employer’s goodness, he did not file a case against the manager nor did he do anything to exact justice against him, which in this case is most extraordinary. The manager thought that he was old and proud to take on other forms of living and facing such a huge crisis being his future at stake, he did not waste time to sentimentalize but instead thought of using his employer’s generosity to secure his future, although through illegal means. Before his unemployment was made public, his dealings on behalf of his employer would still be valid and legal. It could have been possible that he had taken out his commissions hence lessening the debts of the debtors. By doing this, he definitely would have made a very good impression to the debtors who would be indebted to him as to do him good in the future in return for his generosity. The twist and surprise of the parable is that the employer even praised the deceitful skill of the manager. The lesson of the parable is more than that.
Since we were little children, we were taught that “honesty is the best policy” and in whatever we do, “God is watching us”. The manager was not praised because of his dishonesty but rather in his quick and creative ways of dealing with the crisis he was facing. The word crisis comes from the Greek word krisis which means decision. When we are in crisis, we always think of difficulty because we face a turning point that calls for a decision. If the worldly people could be as astute like the manager to secure their future in using even ill-gotten wealth, how much more with us Christians when our eternity is at stake? Eternity is our ultimate crisis. It is the absolute turning point of our life which we have to decide on not during the last minute when we are gasping our last breath but in the here and now of our existence.
We are given all the means such as time, talents and treasure. Some have more, others less depending on the mission entrusted to us. It is up to us how we use them as tickets in securing our entrance to eternity. The gospel concludes with a warning not to turn them into idols as to take us away from the goal for which it was given us. Not just money but anything that we idolize to the point of complete dependence becomes a mammon. The deification of such a person, a thing or ideology is a form of idolatry which eventually leads us towards worshiping them as our “little gods” and away from God.