There are a lot of ways of seeing the world. And the way we see the world influences what we value and how we live. There has been more research done lately about this relationship. How the world is viewed is a concern for a variety of aspects of human experience.
Much of this began with a work by Thomas Kuhn called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions where he proposed that the conclusions we draw are based upon the way in which we see the world. Using the word paradigm Kuhn worked to express both how these paradigms both help us to understand the world better and how they can also prevent us from seeing things as they are.
Both readings today describe people who see the world in a certain way. Paul describes the person who lives for the next luxorious meal. It is someone who lives that egoistical life that they promote as if it is in fact something worth bragging about. You know what I mean. It invovles wearing the right designer label, paying lots of money for a meal at the “right” restaurant, showing off the ability to have lots of toys. Their end is destruction. Their glory is their “shame”.
The man in the gospel uses crafty business skills to get people on his side. On the one hand, we could admire the forgiveness of debt. But on the other hand, his motivations do not indicate a change of heart. In fact, it seems possible his ingenuity could very well be rewarded.
We, as Christians, we are called to see the world in a way that leads to conversion. We strive to imitate Jesus in every aspect of our lives. The point is that because our ultimate destiny is not in this world, we seek a long lasting type of living. We are not ultimately citizens of earth, we are ultimately people whose “citizenship is in heaven“.
As such, we live by principles and values that do not make sense if this is all there is. We do not believe that the person with the most toys wins. We do not seek to help others simply because we get something in return. We engage in activities that on the surface seem to be completely unproductive. We embrace silence, we devote time to prayer, we read the bible.
Will your view of the world, your paradigm be one that leads to heaven, where our citizenship is, or not?