Sunday, September 19, 2010

You cannot serve two masters


Image: TrinityGraceChurch

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Audio for homily



“For the children of this world are more prudent
than are the children of light,”
said Jesus.

(And just to make sure we’re on the same page here:
that crafty steward is a “child of the world”
while Jesus is speaking to us as “children of light.”
Jesus is speaking to US as the children of light!)

“More prudent...”

Can you remember the last time you were prudent?
- the last time you made the prudent choice, not the foolish one?
- the last time you spoke the prudent word, not the rash response?
- the last time you did the prudent thing or kept a prudent silence?

If you’re like me,
it might be easier to remember the last time you were im-prudent.

To be prudent is to be:
“capable of exercising sound judgment in practical matters...”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Making good choices in practical affairs?
But then why do we tend instead, and so often,
to be rash and impulsive rather than prudent?

The word “prudent” comes from two Latin words: pro - videre
which means “to see before,” that is, “look ahead,” ,
to be prepared, to be ready.

By contrast, rash and impulsive actions
spring from the moment and by definition fail to look ahead,
fail to take in the larger picture.

Prudence, taking the long view, can apply to many life situations:
to business decisions, picking a college, choosing a spouse,
- or betting on horse races!

That’s not the Lord’s agenda here.

But why does he encourage us to consider
the example of this dishonest steward
who cooks his boss’s books to feather his own nest
when he sees the jig is up?

Jesus advises us in this way because the dishonest steward
took in the larger picture, saw what was before him,
and provided for himself what he knew he would need:
a place for him to live after he’d been fired.

Jesus isn’t counseling us here to indulge in creative bookkeeping.
He’s advising us on the business of the heart,
the business of the soul,
and urging us to be as purposeful and determined,
as wily and crafty as that steward
in looking ahead and planning for the day
when all the things we usually count on will no longer be ours.

Many of us do that by financial planning
and planning where we’ll live when we retire.
We decide who will serve as a health-care proxy for us
and who’ll be the executor of our will.

That’s taking care of the business side of things.

But the Lord is asking how we’re planning for
our spiritual legacy and where we’ll be living
after we’ve done our dying.
He calls us to be purposeful, determined, even wily and crafty
in diligently planning for what each of us will face at life’s end.
And that’s much more than preparing a document
to be opened in a lawyer’s office at the time of our death.
That means preparing and living our lives now
with the long view, looking ahead,
prudently choosing to serve one master,
the Lord of our hearts.

The master of the house we hope to live in forever
calls us even this morning to a taste and a sip
of the banquet prepared
for those who prudently spend their lives
looking to come home to him for eternity.

As we come to his table, let us pray that in light of his sacrifice
no sacrifice demanded by prudence
will be too large for us to make.

(In the audio, this homily concluded with reference to the baptism of a child, Charlotte Mary, being celebrated at Mass.)


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1 comment:

The Little House That Grew said...

Hi father! I just stumbled onto your blog and I thought that your commentary on today's gospel was very good and timely. Prudence is one of the most under appreciated cardinal virtues. Our culture makes such rash decisions that often lead to unfavorable consequences. We must be deliberate in our actions and take the time, with His help, to make better choices. God bless you.