Luke 16:1-13 Cheating The Devil
Throughout the history of the Chosen People, cheating was an on-going plague. But the prophets of old considered the trampling of justice upon the widows, the orphans, and the poor a downright scandal. How could the children of God be so dishonest? “We will diminish the ephah, add the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating. We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!” But, “the Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob; Never will I forget a thing they have done.” (Am 8:4-7)
We tend to cheat the wrong people or the wrong things. We tend to cheat out life with depression; love with lust; forgiveness with bitterness; sacrifice with sadness. Today, the Lord gives us the parable of the dishonest steward. He lifts him up to the status of a prudent man, an entrepreneurial man! How can this be? What is the Lord asking of us? Simple. Jesus wants the children of the light to be more prudent, more industrious, than the children of this world. He wants us to cheat the devil! Christians are not called to play fair with the devil. They are called to cheat the devil! We do not tango with the devil, we CRUSH the devil. Feelings of fear, frustration, despair, loneliness, emptiness, sadness, bitterness, hatred, resentment and anguish are all sentiments that are brought about by sin. That is, a separation of my life from God’s life; a separation of my will and God’s will. The Lord does not want us to be broken. He wants us to lift up our hearts to Him! The devil tries to crush me and when I allow him to do it, when I fall into his trance, I dance with him. We are not called to dance with the devil, we are called to step on his toes!
Today, crush fear with faith; frustration with patience; despair with hope; loneliness with prayer; emptiness with generosity; sadness with sorrow; bitterness with mercy; hatred with love; resentment with forgiveness; and anguish with sacrifice! We do not play by the devil’s rules, we cheat! This is the one time we are allowed to cheat and the Lord is giving us permission.
Yesterday I was late in hearing confessions. Four parishioners left before I could hear their confession. They lost out. The devil won! He got the last word instead of the Lord. They should have waited. But the devil plays his game and we go along with it. Do not be tempted by the devil to walk away in self-righteousness when the Lord is delayed in arriving. He gave us too many parables in regard to this.
One late evening I was shopping at the local supermarket and as I approached the checkout I noticed that the cashier was a severely deformed man. When I noticed him I gasped. I felt horrible for him. Instead, he began to talk with me, ask me how my day went. He joked with me, laughed and wished me well. I couldn’t believe it. He was happier than I! Instead of feeling self-pity, bitterness or despair for himself, he was enjoying life, and enjoying it to the full. He was cheating the devil and living life worthy of a child of God. The next morning I went to the bank, and as I was waiting in line a man came into the bank. He had no vocal cords and a hole in his esophagus. He was speaking through a hand held “electrolarynx” and he made his presence very much known and heard. While everyone in the bank was in shock, this man walked confidently, greeting everyone, and headed straight for me. I pretended to be occupied. He asked me how my day was going and I responded as naturally as I could, as if there was nothing different about him. Then he asked me if I was a minister. I told him I was a Roman Catholic priest. He told me to keep up the good work and to have a great day. Instead of feeling anguished he was cheating the devil with his enthusiasm and joy!
I could go on and on and on…We Christians are called to never give in to the temptations of the devil which shortens life and tampers with our attitudes. We are called to be children of the light, who cheat suffering and death with forgiveness and love! Just like our Master did, and we can only serve one Master.