REFLECTION: A 100%-100% proposition PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:21

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

One gospel parable that had me on tenterhook for sometime is that of a master who praised his steward he was planning to dismiss for mismanaging his property. It’s in Chapter 16 of the gospel of St. Luke. My initial reading of it left me a bit confused.

As the parable went, the steward resorted to some devious plans to secure his future when he would be jobless. To endear himself, or better said, ingratiate himself with his master’s debtors, he reduced the debts they owed to his master.

A more careful reading of the parable, of course, reveals that it is clear about the dishonesty committed by that steward, but just the same he was praised not because of that, but because of his astuteness and cleverness in dealing with his predicament.

The parable, for sure, is not meant to teach us that it is ok to use any means to achieve a good end. A good, legitimate end never justifies evil means. To be moral, both means and ends have to be good, legitimate, moral.

Rather, the parable is meant to address a common problem besetting many of us who try to be good and holy as expected of us, given our dignity as persons and children of God. It is the problem of our tendency to be complacent, to be naïve in handling our earthly, temporal affairs.

That is the conclusion we can make after reading the ending of the parable which says: “The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”

Christ is reproaching the children of light for their naivete, complacency and irresponsible helplessness in tackling their  temporal affairs, while giving more credit to the children of this world who know how to go about our worldly predicaments.

That is a teaching that echoes and reinforces what Christ also said in another occasion: “I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be therefore wise as serpents and simples as doves.” (Mt 10,16)

Yes, we need to be good, holy, honest as much as possible, but we should also know how to be street-smart and shrewd when the need arises. We have to lay to rest that caricature of holiness that makes us sanctimonious in appearance but a moron in handling our worldly businesses.

In this regard, what perhaps can describe the proper attitude to take and develop toward God and our earthly affairs is to rely and depend on God for everything, following to the letter his teachings and commandments, and to rely also on us completely, using all the God-given powers and means made available to us.

It’s like a 100%-100% proposition in the sense that everything depends on God, but also everything depends on us. It’s not an 80-20 affair, nor 90-10. It’s 100-100!

This is, of course, a proposition that goes beyond mathematical laws, since we are not dealing here with merely quantifiable elements as much as with spiritual realities, ruled mainly by faith, hope and charity. In this latter system, the law that is followed is the all-or-nothing rule.

This means that the 100% we are supposed to give is not a 100% exclusive of God’s 100%. Rather, it is a 100% that reflects and channels God’s 100%. It’s a 100% that is homogeneous, not heterogeneous, to the 100% of God.

In short, this 100%-!00% proposition we are talking about expresses in some way our total identification with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Said from another angle, we can say that every time we try to do all we can to resolve our temporal affairs, we are approximating our total identification with Christ who also went all the way to redeem us by offering his life on the cross.

He did not simply preach and perform miracles, he did not simply amaze the crowd with his gracious words and marvelous cures. He went all the way to offer his life, showing us that his love for us is to the extreme, since he said, “No one has greater love than he who offers his life for his friends.” (Jn 15,13)

Every time therefore that we do our all we can, making use of whatever astuteness and cleverness we have to handle our earthly affairs, we would be keeping Christ more alive in us.

Far from separating us from Christ, our active involvement in the things of the world, if done properly, would keep us close to Christ. The world is no obstacle in our relation with God, if we keep this !00%-100% proposition in mind.