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The parable of the dishonest steward

January 11, 2020 - Saturday 4:01 AM by Fr. Roy Cimagala

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            This, to me, is the most intriguing parable Christ is
teaching us. (cfr. Lk 16,1-13) A rich man decided to fire his steward
for mismanaging his business. And the steward, knowing what was going
to happen, had to do some cheating so he would have security after
being fired.
            The conclusion of the parable was that the master praised
his dishonest steward for his ‘cleverness,’ saying that the “people of
this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the
people of light.” (Lk 16,8)
            At first sight, it would seem that God, who must have been
personified in some way by the rich man in the parable, is ok with
cheating, with being dishonest, with being calculating as leverage for
one’s personal gain and interest.
            Even the so-called liberal gospel commentators raise their
eyebrows over this parable and have to take great pains to find the
rationale behind this parable. You can just imagine how the so-called
conservative gospel commentators would justify this parable!
            To me, it simply means that Christ is being realistic with
our situation in this world. We try to put everything in our life
right, clean and moral. But no matter what we do, we would always be
hounded by evil and by all kinds of dirt, physical, moral, spiritual.
            This parable seems to tell us that we should just learn
how to live with this condition and do our best to come out ok in the
eyes of God in the end. What may be considered as aggravating
circumstance in human justice may be regarded as saving grace in God’s
            We may have to handle dirt in our life and deal with
situations that are wrought with moral irregularities, but as long as
we do not compromise what is essential, which is love that comes from
God as shown by Christ who became like sin without committing sin
(cfr. 2 Cor 5,21), then things will just turn out ok.
            We have to learn to distinguish between what is a
tolerable cooperation in evil and an intolerable one. With the former,
we should feel the obligation to do whatever we can to clean up what
is evil in a given situation, system or structure.
            We should try always to be helpful, positive and
constructive in our outlook, avoiding having the attitude of simply
looking for faults in others and for what is wrong in a given
            Of course, neither should we ignore the wrong things
around, but we should not be discouraged by them. On the contrary,
they should pose as an invitation and a challenge for us to do
something about them. It may take a lot of time and effort to do this,
but we should just be patient and persevering, never giving up on the
effort to put things right.
            Let us always remember that evil in all its forms cannot
stand on its own. It will always depend, like a parasite, on something
that is good and true which it tries to deform or deny. We just have
to find a way to take that parasitic evil away from its host. What we
have to avoid is to get so frustrated as to do nothing about it.
            In this life, we should heed what Christ already told us
what to expect in this life—that we have to be clever like serpents
but still innocent like doves. (cfr. Mt 10,16) We cannot expect a
completely clean world here. That is reserved for heaven.
            This means that we have to be ready to get dirty in some
way, that we have to be shrewd and not naïve, always inventive and
creative of how to deal with evil properly instead of doing nothing
about it.
            We have to learn how to move on and not entangled with the
problems and difficulties that evil would occasion.