Dishonest Stewards?

Last night I celebrated the opening Mass for the monthly All-Night Vigil in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. I thought the readings fit in very well with our call to offer ourselves, in St. Paul's words (Romans 12: 1), as "a living sacrifice."

The Gospel (Luke 16: 1-8), the Parable of the Dishonest Steward, should strike us as shocking. That's the nature of Jesus' Parables. They are designed to get people's attention and make them think. In this case we have to wonder: is Jesus commending dishonesty? No, He's commending prudence. He says that "the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light."

People who succeed in worldly affairs have a plan and stick to it. They have foresight and plan ahead. They keep their focus on their goal by getting a daily planner and making sure that every hour of the day is used in a way that helps them achieve their goal. One slogan they use is: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

Are the children of light so focused? Clearly St. Paul in the first reading (Philippians 3: 17-4:1) thinks not and it brings him to tears. "Their minds are occupied with earthly things." They focus on food and other bodily pleasures. Paul reminds them that "our citizenship is in heaven." That's our goal and should be our focus. We should plan our days and live them with that goal in mind.

We hear the Parable of the Dishonest Steward and point our fingers at him. What a crook! Yet we must look at the three fingers pointing back at us. He is each one of us. How? It's really quite simple. The Dishonest Steward used his Master's wealth to buy friends and security for himself. We are the Dishonest Steward whenever we do something without God in mind. All that we have and all that we are is not our own. Our talents, our possessions, our bodies, our very life--all this belongs to God. All is a gift from God given to us to be used responsibly, to be used according to God's plan, to be used to help us attain the heavenly goal for which God created us. When we use our talents, our time, our lives in any other way, we are actually stealing from God.

This is where the Morning Offering comes in. Each morning we want to recognize that everything is God's gift, including our life and the minutes of the day ahead of us. It is God's gift that has been entrusted to us and we are to use the gift of each day for His glory and honor, in service of God and our neighbor. Having recognized each day as a gift, we then offer that day to God. Then we try to live the offering we've made and at the end of the day reflect back on what we actually ended up offering to God. Was it worthy of Him or not? Or did we misuse the gift that was given?

If we do this, we will be prudent. We will live with our sights set on our heavenly goal and we will make choices that help us attain that goal.