This Gospel Parable of the Creative Steward, who gets out of a really bad spot, reminds me of two phrases in the Faith: 1/Grace Under Pressure. 2/ Faith under Fire. I’ll use them in a sentence: He knows how to live in grace under pressure—where others give up, he heats up and gets it done. Grace under pressure. Now with Faith under Fire. Sometimes, when pressed to do so, the man rises up to the occasion, and gets fired up from his soul, because he has to because it’s Faith under Fire.
When we feel much coming against us, the creative Catholic Christian will find strength from God, as like suddenly loaned to him—which is “grace,” and his mind gets some new life direction and his inner core of “faith”—in Jesus Christ, kicks in. It’s like adrenaline, but it is a spiritual realm matter.
Thus, if you get into a spot, like the parable guy, the steward, then you know to put your soul and your wits together for the action you must choose for your situation. It’s time to make it or break it.
Jesus tells a parable of a clever person in the world. The man has been given charge of something: it’s collecting for his boss and taking a commission in it. Yet the people who owe cannot pay enough back, at least not now, but it puts the servant’s job on the line. So he devises a way, as he forgoes any commission, and he takes an action to collect what discounted amount each household can pay, telling the people it’ll be meeting them reasonably at where they are at—and people are thrilled by it. They pay something back, 30%, 50%–and the steward gives all the monies in to his boss, and says—hey, I know you’re preparing to fire me, but I have just had a great collection of what all the people could put up for now, and they really liked you for the patience you’re granting, although you did not authorize me to give that offer, but it affords them for a little while longer to get their owed funds in.
This strategy is seen as brilliant and clever, and the boss is now praising his collector worker. What a breakthrough.
Breakthrough is a word that one can use for a football play or set of downs that’s getting nowhere, but then suddenly, the running back finds the will and the way and a hole and breakthough!—there is a great play that happens. I grew up watching the NFL and in my youth I was amazed at how the Bears running back Gale Sayers was able to make a gain on a play, or even a great big gain, is what looked to be a play going nowhere. Sayers would improvise as a runner, like no one had ever seen. He could dodge, bob, weave, lean far sideways and plunge through small openings or seeming non-openings. He had game-breakers from busted plays, from a seeming plugged whole side of a field, and he danced and powered his way to daylight. It was exciting to watch. He was a clever, talented back.
Somehow, in life, Jesus tells us, we are asked to not lose heart in situations that don’t look hopeful, and to play with His Spirit and find the daylight, the breakthrough.
We can have a Gale Sayers kind of moment (even if you’re not a running back)!
The parable is meant to mess with us a bit. What’s the steward doing? It first just seems dishonest, in collecting a lower amount for his boss, though it wasn’t the boss’ plan. Jesus isn’t advocating trickery or little lies to get by, what He meant to point out is that the steward had this
C/ wonderful faculty of getting through a very tight situation, by creatively finding a way, and disciples of The Lord are supposed to rely on God to have us be wide and prudent and surprising when it comes to succeeding to serve the Gospel. Improvising and strategizing and giving 2 minute drill effort is not just for sports or money matters, our Way of the Lord life needs it. (Sayers and a lot of successful NFL Christian players have said so—it’s our Gospel call.
The steward got a plan that had to sacrifice his own self, and commissions, for the sake of some good coming to everyone else. His boss got served, and his indebted customers got served, by them being given a break.
With himself out of the middle of it, all won out. He got his job saved.
How is it like Gayle Sayers, the Bears runner? It takes deep passion to play the game like Sayers did. It takes desire. You need to believe and find a way. It takes another inner thing. Sayers wrote a book about his life philosophy—that inner thing in him: His book was called: “I am Third.” That title tells you that, as glorious as his playing was—and with the tv cameras all on him as a star—Sayers was not a big ego of a person.
I am Third. He deferred his “self” to third place, and more important things to the higher order. God and family (at home and with the team) were a heart priority to Sayers.
When Jesus comes into our world, I think the situation of Him for saving the world looked a lot worse than any defensive line and linebackers and db’s all bearing down on a trapped runner.
He found the way to save us, and with a passion and Spirit that He wants us to now accept inside ourselves. He wants us to live with that for Gospel purposes, and for loving and living well as the man of God.
It’s always makes possibilities when there don’t seem to be much in sight.
There can be daybreak.
Sum it up and see how you’ll apply this gospel… How you’ll use faith and holy wits, and creative grace under pressure?
How will you live an influence for good and not get too caught up just in your “self?”
How do you see your Christ-life as pursuing the holy goals of love, faith and hope with some sincere passion, from within the soul and out?
How will the everyday life of hope, even when things are in ordinary, still be lived as the spiritual man, trying to serve our Lord, the Master, in some prudent, creative, insightful way, and all for the good of others?
Fr. John Barry
Luke 16:1-13 (shorter form, Luke 16:10-13)
Jesus tells a parable about a dishonest steward who is commended for his prudence; one cannot serve both God and money—each 100 per cent—so let it be God, and make our money or vocation be at His good plans. The OT reading of Amos 8 today is about people blowing it, as too caught up in money and things rather than of their unique ID in God.