SEPTEMBER 18, 2016
Harry and Al were business men. Harry saw Al walking down the street and said to him, "Al, I have a great deal for you. A real bargain! An elephant. A whole elephant. Yours for only $500."
Al said, "Are you crazy? What am I going to do with an elephant?
"Al," said Harry, "This is a magnificent beast. All grey. Complete with a working trunk."
Then Al said, "But I have no place to keep an elephant. I live in a small three room apartment."
"Al," said Harry, "Did I tell you about the tusks? Two three foot long tusks. This is a beautiful animal. They don't make them like this anymore."
At this Al went wild and started screaming, "Look I live on the third floor, I couldn't feed the elephant. I don't even want an elephant."
"You're a hard man, Al" says Harry, "OK, I'll throw in a second whole elephant for only a hundred bucks extra."
And then Al said, "Harry, now you're talking."
It is amazing how astute we can be when making business deals. Whether it's buying a used car or selling a house, many of us learn how to get the most for our money. This is not something new. It's part of human nature to get the best deal possible. Jesus was aware of this. The parable he told about the steward who had to think quick to get himself out of a financial jam recognized human ingenuity.
The Lord's point is that we often demonstrate our intelligence, but we don't apply this intelligence to the one thing that really matters; our eternal salvation. Consider the number of times we've sat down and worked out how we can use our talents to be better Christians. Consider the number of times we've thought out how we can put ourselves in situations which would avoid moral problems we've had in the past. Consider the number of times we've plotted out how we can implant the practice of our faith in our families. If we were to add up the minutes spent a month doing this and compare them to the minutes a month spent working out our financial deals, would there be any comparison at all? We even use the time of worship in church to do our own business. How many of us are marketing our business when we are at church? Do we use our relationship at church community for the sake of our business? You may know some churches who use their bulletin for business advertising for the sake of their finances. I don’t criticize them but I don’t want any in our bulletin. The bulletin is for God’s business only.
Christ tells us in this parable, "You have intelligence, use it. We must be as resourceful and dedicated in the ways of
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God as we are in the ways of commerce and politics. Jesus' parable challenges us to be as eager and ingenious for the sake of God's reign, to be as ready to use our time and money to accomplish great things for the Gospels as we are to secure our own happiness.
Some people, like those in the first reading from the prophet Amos have perfected how they can out smart others. They cheat with their scales. They inflate money. That is not why God gave us intelligence. He gave us intelligence to make his presence real in the world. The cleverness, skill and plain nerve that the manager used to save his skin, and that Al used to get a good deal from Harry, we must use to make God's ways real in our world. Today we ask the Lord to help us in our ingenuity to promote his kingdom.
"What I kept, I lost. What I spent, I had. What I gave, I have." (unknown)