When I was a little boy I loved to play dominos with my Dzadju (poor Polish spelling for the term grandfather), an immigrant from then Russian controlled Poland. I was pretty good at matching the tiles and my grandfather was most patient with me as I thought out the game. However, I was most happy when my Dzadju tired of playing and let me set up each domino on end close to each other and then knock the first one down and watch the chain reaction. Little did I realize I could have had a great future in physics. Instead I went into anthropology.
This practice of knocking down dominoes became more and more elaborate and gained popular attention. On television talk and variety shows people built more and more elaborate sequences of upright dominos only to knock them down with spectacular effect.
My greatest insight came, however, not in playing dominos with my grandfather (who always let me win), or in knocking down dominos myself or in viewing the more elaborate demolitions on television but when, on one show, the technician played the film backwards and showed all the dominos rising upright—it was much more fascinating to me than seeing them falling.
But this does not happen in “real time,” to borrow a computer phrase. But now is not real time but God’s time, the Kingdom of God. Jesus tells us a story today to illustrate this.
Today’s parable could be likened to that “game” of knocking down dominos. A manager has used up his master’s property, knocking down his employer’s wealth. He realizes that he too will be knocked down, fired from his job. He does an interesting thing however. Instead of extracting money from his master’s debtors to pay his debt or to run away, and thus knocking them down financially, he forgives large parts of their debts so that they too will lift him up rather than leave him down when his time of dismissal comes.
So the master praises the manager for being enterprising, for lifting up instead of knocking down, even though he himself was about to be knocked down!
We live in a time of war, terrorism, vengeance and retaliation. It seems that the knocking down will never stop but will only get worse. But this is God’s Kingdom, other worldly but also this worldly. Like the manager, when confronted with our own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world, we must not inflict pain for pain, hurt for hurt or injustice for injustice. We must lift up and not knock down.
We are to imitate Paul, as we are reminded in the first reading, not for the sake of Paul himself but for the fact that Paul seeks to imitate Christ. It is Christ who came to give life to the full, to lift up and not to knock down. The Kingdom of God IS real time and is all about lifting up. This process may seem miraculous or like camera tricks given "the ways of the world", however, this lifiting up is far more important and salvific than knocking down.
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