Who would be a football manger? One day you are up, the next day you are down. One day you are punch drunk with success another you are on your back looking up at the skies, you realise that you have taken a mighty upper cut to the chin. It reminds you of Kipling’s poem If: If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster -and treat those two impostors just the same …then you’ll be a man.
The man in the Gospel must have felt the same. One day he is top of the pile, he is the steward of his Master’s monies and possessions, he is the one whom everyone defers to, he is the one who is in charge. But the next day he is about to be demoted right to the bottom. He has climbed the ladder of success and now he lands on the snake and slides all the way down to the bottom. From being punch drunk with success, the parable tells us that he has to box clever to save the situation, to save his skin, to leave himself with something. He comes up with a scheme, a ploy, a deceit where he is going to place himself in a good position. With a sleight of hand his pencil corrects the bills of service to win himself friends; he twists the accounts. He’s off the floor, he is back in the game.
How devious the man is. How devious the human heart can be when it comes to self-interest, survival. The man represents people who will not stop at any thing. It doesn’t matter now that he has mismanaged things, or is corrupt in his dealings, all that matters is he wins friends for the future.
Obviously the parable is not commending his double dealings in the sense of his dishonesty but uses the fact that he won’t stop at anything to save his skin to make a serious point. It becomes the occasion for Jesus to say that he wishes the children of light would be this enterprising, this clever, this determined in doing the right thing.
It is not easy to be single minded, as the man in the story, unwavering, resolute, tenacious, fixed purpose. Most of us are easily blown off course, distracted, derailed when it comes to being consistent or not losing sight of what we should be about. .
Most of us are in two minds about such a person. We admire the person who is focused, dedicated, uncompromising and uncompromising. We see it in people who achieve their ends, the great inventors, the great writers and artists. The great sportsmen and women of our time have that single-minded streak. They work hard to get there, they spend years to achieve their goal, they don’t lose sight of what they are doing
But on the other hand we are a bit unnerved by such people, they seem a bit obsessive we say, driven, consumed by ambition, ruthless in achieving their end, blind to anything else. Like the man in the Gospel they will do anything to achieve their end.
Jesus seems to be commending that resoluteness, that undeviating course that people set, that eye that is fixed in achieving its end, the person who doesn’t lose sight of what it is about.
This is the language we can understand. The cricketer goes in to score a six. The footballer goes on to score a hat trick. The athlete is in it to win gold. They do their best and they want the best.
Most of us have the experience just like the man in the Gospel that life has its ups and downs. Its good days and bad days. Times when things seem to be going well and times when things are not going well. Sunny days and rainy days. But there comes to many of us, like the man in the Gospel, when there is that day that when everything changes. Life which was plain sailing suddenly we find ourselves unexpectedly thrown on the rocks.
When that day comes can we keep going? Can we stay the course? Can we resolutely keep going? Can we get off the floor and get in the game? Can we single mindedly keep our eye on the goal? It seems that we are asked where are we going and what we are about? Can we do it?
It’s easy on sunny days to do what God asks of us. Easy to do what God wishes when everything is going well? Easy to do things when it is not hard? But when that day of trial comes, can we be resolute, tenacious, unwavering. Most of us not.
In that day of trial, in that day when our mettle is tested, in that day when questions are asked of us, that’s the day to stay resolute because there are no favours, no graces, no lights in the sky, no peace in our heart our response to him is that we have faith just because we have faith, we love him just bevcause we love him.
We say in the Lord’s pray “put us not to the test”. Those words are real, “Lord do not put us to the test”. We know when that day comes we can be found wanting. But when the test comes, we ask him to give us the strength not to fail, not to give up, not to lose hope but to keep going with resoluteness and single mindedness.