The Wisdom of Shrewdness
“The children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the children of light” (Luke 16:8). This is a statement of Jesus that really feels like a deep sigh from within; a sigh that expresses the pain he feels about the nonchalance of God’s children towards the gift of love and peace that he offers.
Just think of the drug cartels, the criminals and the astute persons in business or politics who are so creatively shrewd in dealing with their kinds; they are persons who wholly give themselves to pursuing money at all cost. They do not look back in pursuing their goal; they are so ingenious in seeing avenues and leeways through which they can make more money or keep themselves in power. Their commitment is so total that if it demands that other people’s lives should be trampled upon or that rules of honest business or civil relationship be set aside, they would not hesitate to do so. Their commitment is total, and their practical sense of life is evident in their shrewd intelligence. It is this commitment to shrewd but dishonest living that keeps dictators in power; it is the same kind of commitment that makes politicians and greedy persons bedfellows. They know how to use what they have to make many friends ahead of time, who protect them in case of any emergency, and in their meetings they reaffirm their commitment to each other and to their united effort to achieve their goal of more power and more money – often at the expense of rules of right reasoning and right moral conduct.
Yet, Jesus praises the dishonest manager this weekend for his shrewdness; his practical approach to his foreseen loss of job. His manipulative ability is evident. Jesus praises him, not for his dishonesty, but for his practical wisdom in dealing with his problem; for his commitment that is total and unwavering, and he (Jesus) wishes that the children of the Kingdom could be as totally committed to the values of light as this dishonest manager. Through his dishonesty he made friends who saved him. In the same way, Jesus invites us, the children of the Kingdom, to make friends with what we have – through our generous giving we make more friends and expand our circle of love and family. This is a truth that is incontestable. If we are totally committed to the values of the Gospel, to making the lives of God’s children better, to investing in the spread of God’s kingdom of love, peace and justice, we become beacons of light upon the mountain, dispersing the darkness that dishonest living can create around us and in our world.
It all comes down to one thing: what you are in love with, what you consider important, what you truly value, you will give yourself to completely. In Jesus Christ, God offers us the WAY to life; the WAY to true joy, peace and a selfless lifestyle that brings so much meaning and purpose to our lives. But this gift of pure joy and fulfillment keeps eluding many of us because we do not experience it or give ourselves fully to it. For this reason, we continue on the path of sadness, wild but dissipating life, volatile relationships, and all kinds of ways that leave us deeply restless and empty. We need to pray for the grace to be freed from indecisive and weak commitment to the values of the Gospel.
How can I be surrounded by love,
and I am blind to it?
Held firmly in love,
and not feel it?
Whispered to in gentle voice
and not hear it?
Oh Love Divine, Eternal Father
deliver me from me,
and open my eyes to see YOU,
and give myself wholly to YOU
and to my brothers and sisters. Amen
~ Fr. Cornelius Okeke