How far does the contemporary Christian go to follow Jesus? Can the lures of the world entice you without compromising your beliefs? How much compromising can one do and still remain loyal to being a true disciple?
I find gratitude in knowing some of the questions we ponder have been wrestled with since the beginning of our faith. It never answers specific questions, nor does it draw lines of appropriateness. Instead of trying to compromise to the bare minimal, why not set your eyes on something higher? Can you raise the bar to a level that encourages you to aim for something better and shoot for that which is right, good and true? I frequently see parents doing this with their children. Are we willing to allow our Heavenly Father to challenge us?
So part of being challenged is this wonderful gospel which doesn’t seem to fit into our scheme of how the kingdom of God should be. Remember, this is a story Jesus tells. We may even ask, “Why is it that someone who cheats others gets rewarded by the master”? We would never hold this up as an ideal for our children, which may be why this is one of those frequently overlooked gospels.
Jesus’ point is that this dishonest steward is capable of extending mercy to others simply because he understands the concept of extending mercy. He understands the concept so well, that he can extend mercy which doesn’t belong to him. He can extend his master’s mercy. Subsequently, if this dishonest steward can understand the extension of mercy to others, then why is it we have such a difficult time extending mercy? Do we believe the mercy we extend has to be in our own personal spiritual bank accounts? What happens if we don’t think we have any mercy stored up in reserve? Could we extend to others our master’s mercy? What does it look like to extend something which we don’t own?
Concepts such as extending mercy, reciprocity, generativity, and even compassion don’t make much sense in an economy of greed and personal gain. But if this is the kingdom of God, then our concepts must rise to new levels. If Jesus from his cross could extend love and mercy to everyone, then enemies of the cross of Christ would be people who seem to lack the ability to extend the mercy of God. I invite you today to give away something you don’t have and discover anew the Kingdom of God.
Fr. David Colhour, C.P. is the pastor of St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.