Friday of the Thirty-FirstWeek in Ordinary Time
The praise of the shrewdness
Then he also said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. “For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Lk 16,1-8
Today we are faced with a page of the gospel which causes us to meditate in a
particular way: Jesus praises the “shrewdness” of this dishonest steward. A few months ago, he urged us to be “so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves” (Mt10,16). Why the shrewdness is a positive value for the Lord? It can be defined as the ability to understand, or to quickly perceive people, situations and moments of the life, to achieve a personal favorable goal, which usually, however, is not good. It is for this reason that the shrewdness is considered an ethically questionable value, but in itself it is like a gun: it is negative if the owner is a bandit, it is positive for the policeman who must guarantee the public order, as the uncle Gino was doing. The shrewdness of quickly understand the people and situations and moments of the life is an highly positive value in Jesus, because it allows him to have compassion for the human affairs, to make miracles and healings, or, until when his time will come, to disappear when the situation gets tough. Even on his times the shrewdness was mainly used for negative purposes, so much so that in the today’s gospel Jesus says: “For the children of this world are more prudent than are the children of light”. Today, however, the Lord asks us to transform the shrewdness which is in us in a valuable capacity to understand the needs of the others, to read the signs of the times, to discern what is good from what is evil, to fill with skill and creativity our role in the project which he has entrusted to us. This is what did Marcello Candia who, from being rich, although his wealth was honestly earned, sold everything and went to build an hospital for the poor people in Brazil. He was really shrewd.