Once again the parable of the dishonest steward (cfr. Lk 16,1-8) presents to us some intriguing questions and issues that we have to try to resolve and reconcile with our Christian faith and morals.
We can ask if God, who must have been personified in some way by the rich man in the parable, is just ok with some cheating, with being dishonest, with being calculating as leverage for one’s personal gain and interest.
Remember that 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)
I suppose what the parable is trying to tell and teach us is 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 a saving grace in God’s eyes.
We may have to handle dirt in our life and deal with situations that are fraught 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.
So, we have to be ready to properly live this unavoidable condition of our life here where evil and its increasingly powerful structures are sprouting around like mushrooms.
Some of these immoral structures are already large and well-entrenched in our culture and systems like the old acacia trees that we still see around. They really pose as a tremendous challenge to anyone who wishes to be consistent with his Christian life.
For sure, the attitude to take toward this unavoidable reality is not to escape from this muddled world. We would be like fish out of water that way. Yes, we might be able to flee from the mud, but then we would die instantly if we are taken out of our proper place.
Neither should our attitude be of just indiscriminately accepting what comes or what is around. We are supposed to be the lord and master of this world in the name of God whose best creature and children we are. And so, we just have to do some discerning, some purifying and some struggling. It cannot be helped.
Christ himself said, “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.” (Mt 10,16) It’s quite a combination to attain. But if we have faith in God and follow what is taught us, we can make it. Truth is we have been provided with more than enough to be able to reach this ideal.*