Thursday, November 05, 2015

Intentionality in All Things

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Thus I aspire to proclaim the Gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation, but as it is written:  Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.  (Romans 15:20-21)

“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 the children of light.”   (Luke 16:8)

O Lord, may I use whatever wisdom you’ve given me to further your Kingdom, not mine.

Shrewdly.  Wisely.  Astutely.  Cleverly.  Prudently.  All adverbs used in different translations of today’s Gospel to summarize how the chief steward deals with the unfortunate discovery of either his dishonesty or his lack of management skills. 

The first thing we’re told about him is that he has squandered his employer’s wealth.  He isn’t a good caretaker and he’s about to lose his job.  We can almost reach out and take hold of his fear.  He’s not a young twenty-something with a long earnings future ahead of him.  Who’s going to hire him?  He can’t go out and do manual labor; he’s not strong enough.  He doesn’t want to become a beggar; that’s below him.

“What to do?  What to do?” He frets.  Then, he comes up with the answer!  He summons each person owing a debt to the master of the household.  As they show up, he offers to tear up their promissory notes and let them write new ones for smaller amounts.  One by one, the various debtors take him up on it.  He’s smiling inside, because now he has many homes to go to in his days of unemployment.

He’s nothing more than an utter scoundrel!  So how could the master commend him as shrewd, wise, astute, clever or prudent?  Because he is!   Granted, in this instance, he’s only looking after his self-interests, but for someone about to be shown the door, he’s taken care of his future pretty well.  He’s got a plan.  A number of people now owe him favors and he’ll never be out on the streets.

Jesus knows we’re all pretty good about having a plan for getting through this life.  Hopefully, it doesn’t involve putting others in our debt.  Maybe it’s only as far-reaching as how to pay this week’s bills.  Perhaps it’s how to get your children through school and launched out into the world.  It might be your long-term plan for funding your retirement.  Whatever, we’re full of objectives and ways to survive on this earth.

Jesus simply wishes that we, “the children of light,” would be just as intentional about our faith and spiritual lives.  Look at the apostle Paul.  In today’s first reading from this final section of his letter to the Romans, he talks about the plan he’s used as a guide all throughout his days as a missionary for Christ.  Jesus gave him the opportunity to preach to the Gentiles.  Paul has run with it, always with the goal that “those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”  

What we’re not intentional about is often the very thing that falls by the wayside.  Jesus knows that.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we know it, too.

Thinking about Paul’s life, when was the last time you intentionally set out to make a friend for Christ?  When was the last time you put planning and effort into being a friend for Christ?  When was the last time you brought a friend to Christ?

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