At Holy Mass today, we read the parable of the dishonest steward. It has many complicated and difficult aspects. The steward’s own dubious moral character. His desperate honesty with himself vs. his dishonesty with his master. Then his master’s apparent approval of his dishonesty… Who can understand all this complexity?
But at the heart of the parable lies one simple detail: The steward reduced the debtors’ burden. They owed 100. To one, the steward said: Make if 50. To another: Make it 80.
The debtors experienced sudden, unexpected relief. Instant reduction of anxiety and strife. Like a jubilee.
It’s like the day during my senior year of college when my Spanish Literature professor walked into the classroom a couple weeks before the end of the semester. He announced that he had been offered, and had accepted, a new job at a different university. He intended to report to the registrar our grades as they stood at that moment, because he was leaving town the next day.
He had assigned us a crushing 30-40 page research paper, to be turned in at the end of the semester. Few of us had had the time or the courage even to start working on it. He said: “If you have a paper to give me today, I’ll read it tonight and include it in your grade. If not, Don’t worry about it!”
A miracle of mercy.
St. Charles Borromeo died 432 years ago today. Everyone knows the relationship between St. Charles Borromeo and the greatest book of all time? The greatest book of all time is, of course… Okay, after the Bible. …the Baltimore Catechism! Thanks to Cardinal Charles Borromeo, we had the Roman Catechism. Baltimore Catechism is based on the Roman Catechism. So: Thank you, St. Charles Borromeo!
We make things complicated. But they’re not. They’re actually simple. We are not God. God is God. And He is, above all, merciful.