Twenty-Fifth Sunday in the Ordinary Time.
18th September 2016
Amos 8:4-7; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13.
Prudence is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It has truth as its solid foundation. We see in today’s gospel the truth that led to the prudent decision of the wasteful servant. As soon as it was announced to him of the impending dismissal from office, he went into a sober reflection. According to him, ‘“Now that my master is taking the stewardship from me, what am I to do? Dig? I am not strong enough. Go begging? I should be too ashamed. Ah, I know what I will do to make sure that when I am dismissed from office there will be some to welcome me into their homes.”’. I guess he wouldn’t have arrived at this decision were he to have lied to himself. Truth is at the foundation of prudence.
The application of prudence is needed in our approach to God and material things. Jesus Christ rightly pointed out that, ‘…You cannot be the slave both of God and of money’. It calls for prudence it our approach to reality. While material things make life comfortable, we should not lose sight of God, the source of life. The tendency to lose sight of God while engrossed in materialism is the issue at stake. The servant lost sight of the master while enjoying the benefits attached to the office, thus he lost his position. Prudence assists us in remaining focused on the things that really matter, maintaining their priority. It places a kind of equilibrium in our approach to things.
The first reading presented a favorable opportunity to do business. Utilizing the various seasons and the rise in demand to make profit. The tendency to take to extreme in our quest for maximum profit could harm the poor of the society. According to the reading, ‘…by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel, by swindling and tampering with the scales, we can buy up the poor for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat’. There is no goodwill in this kind of falsely achieved profit. Prudence informed by the truth of compassion should make us understand that the less privileged of the society are endangered within the system. There is more to business than profit. The greatest asset of any successful business is consistent patronage. Prudence informed the idea of customer service in order to maintain the customer base. It is all the more profitable when it is backed by goodwill. Today there is more emphasis on customer satisfaction which boosts profit. It is not about cheating to maximize profit, it is about quality service to keep the customers coming.
Jesus Christ was never against paying taxes to Caesar. He understood that the Jewish nation enjoyed territorial protection heralded by the Pax Romana. The rather exorbitant taxes were the unchecked actions of the intermediary tax collectors. Paul calling for prayers for our leaders in the second reading is not out of place. The truth of the matter is that carrying out a revolution to install peace is not feasible without the spill of blood. But the wonders of prayers begins with a change of heart from the evil ways that enthroned the corruption leading to the crisis. When we complain about our corrupt leaders, especially in Africa, we exempt ourselves from the whole. The gospels did not present Jesus Christ attacking the political figures of his time, rather he was in constant logger heads with the religious authorities who should lead the people in righteousness. It is righteousness that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). No political authority can withstand a people united in righteousness. The prudence in praying for our leaders is that we begin the change that leads to peace within our hearts. Prudence is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It has truth at its foundation.
Anthony Ekpunobi, C.M.