I had a huge “aha” experience a number of years back. I had been practicing centering prayer – letting go of thoughts and other distractions to turn again and again to resting in God. It suddenly dawned on me that I needed to let go of the burden of my failures and wrong doings, not just in the centering prayer moments but in my entire life, in the same way. My life needed to be lived from the present moment – not without memory, but without self-recrimination. I needed to define myself not as a sinner but as an instrument of God, a conveyor of good news. God forgave me. Why was I holding on to my bad actions, thoughts and understandings? Each moment, God gives me the grace to begin anew.
The parable of the “dishonest manager” comes on the tail of parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Jesus has been accused of hanging out with tax collectors and sinners, and this is his response.
The tax collectors and sinners were people being held in their sin by their neighbors. Their community judged them by their bad deeds. What if somebody found a way for them to pay off these debts and be done with them once and for all? The manager in today’s parable does exactly that. He has each debtor who comes to him write in an amount that is payable, and then he has them pay it. They walk away Scott free. I’d be pretty grateful to this fellow if I were them.
I enjoy thinking of God as the “dishonest manager”. God sneaks up on us, changing the standard by which we measure our value, making us see ourselves as paid up in all our debts. It’s not what we do well or right that counts, it’s us, our whole selves. This is the Good News. And when I find myself in the present moment, sins forgiven, I want to pledge myself fully to this particular master – not to the ones who judge me and put me in the category of sinner, failure, wrongdoer, but to God, the crafty slave.
Laurie Gudim is a spiritual director, writer and religious iconographer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. To get to know her a little better go to everydaymysteries.com