Godtalk: Astute Steward


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In speaking of the way we should think about security for the future, Jesus used a curious example - a man who cheated his employer. Luke 16.1-8   But it's the astuteness, not the dishonesty of the steward we are to imitate. Wise people look to the future. They think ahead. Such was the worldly-wise steward. He used his resourcefulness to secure his material needs.

Those who try to keep close to Christ must equally look to the future.

All the goods of this world are entrusted to us as stewards of everything on God's behalf.  We are free to choose our life's plan: God simply asks to be included in our plans. God created and ordered all things so that they might reflect himself. God does everything; but chooses to do it through us.

Creation is to reflect the goodness of God as far as limited human beings can make this possible. If we cheat and defraud people we blind them to God's love for themselves in some way. The harm caused by taking another's goods or taking advantage of another's misfortune is not just the material suffering: even more so is the bitterness and sense of injustice which it leaves.

That is on a personal level.  If we do this as a group or as a nation there will be a corresponding sense of bitterness and injustice which will take generations to heal. There are enough examples around the world today to make the point. In the same way. if we misuse the things of this world without regard for the future we are guilty of injustice.

Exploiting the earth's resources without concern for future generations is unjust. Any action that harms this world is injustice both to God and humankind - because it prevents creation from fulfilling its essential purpose of revealing God's love for all people. None of us are perfect. Even the best of us can fail at times, most often through muddle rather than malice; but it is the condition of forgiveness that we must be ready to put things right as far as we can .- locally, nationally, internationally.

Whether we take away someone's good name, or take away an unfair proportion of the world's goods we are equally under an obligation to restore the situation. We must try to make up for what we have done or failed to do.  We must try to restore people's faith in human nature, which is to reflect God's goodness.

We will know what to do about this in our personal circumstances at home, at work, at school It is not so obvious to see what we can do as a group or as a nation. We need to pray for those more directly responsible. as well as praying for guidance in our own thinking and actions.

The parable of the crafty steward challenges us to look at our behaviour as Christians and ask ourselves if we are putting our full energies into the practice of our beliefs, using all the talents God has given us for that purpose. If we keep in mind that we are stewards of all that God has given us, then we build up a more intimate friendship with him.

This friendship will go on for all eternity - and that is a kind of security we simply cannot put at risk.

Peter Knott SJ