International Rules (Twenty-fifth Ordinary)

Jesus went on to make these comments: If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in big things;
If you’re a crook in small things, you’ll be a crook in big things. If you’re not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? No worker can serve two bosses: They’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the bank.
(Luke 16: 10 – 13)

I used to play volleyball at a park with my brother and a bunch of guys from his parish. We had a great time with lots of spirited play and great volleys. We thought we were getting pretty good, too.

One day a group of newcomers joined us and things changed. One of the newcomers served the ball, one of our guys hit the ball back over the net, then the server just grabbed the ball, added a point to their score, and served again. We were flummoxed. What was he up to?

Quite disdainfully he began to explain in great detail that the way we played did not comply with the International Rules of Volleyball. He called our good hits carries, our amazing slams palming the ball, our two-hand shots double hits. Worst of all, he called us all cheaters. Up until that moment we were willing to learn a few things, but to call us cheaters was tantamount to fighting words. We played by different rules, that’s all. Rules that we all grew up with and were comfortable with. And we got pretty savvy playing by those rules.

The unjust steward in the gospel played by different rules than we’re used to. We’d call the guy a cheat. Fortunately for him (though too bad for their customers), his boss played by the same rules. But according to those morally iffy rules, he was pretty savvy at playing his game. Jesus wishes we were just that crafty at living out our faith.

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