Pay attention to this: “If the master of the house had known at what time the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.”
Peter said, “Lord, did you tell this parable only for us, or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Imagine, then, the wise and faithful steward, whom the master sets over his other servants, to give them wheat at the proper time. Fortunate is this servant if his master, on coming home, ﬁnds him doing his work. Truly, I say to you, the master will put him in charge of all his property.
But it may be that the steward thinks, ‘My Lord delays in coming,’ and he begins to abuse the male servants and the servant girls, eating and drinking and getting drunk. Then the master will come on a day he does not expect, and at an hour he doesn’t know. He will cut him off, and send him to the same fate as the unfaithful.
The servant who knew his master’s will, but did not prepare and do what his master wanted, will be soundly beaten; but the one who does unconsciously what deserves punishment, shall receive fewer blows. Much will be required of the one who has been given much, and more will be asked of the one who has been entrusted with more.
Peter’s question offers Jesus the pretext to teach about stewardship on a deeper level. Peter and the apostles are openly concerned.
Jesus depicts two different possible stewards. One who is faithful to his task receives the congratulations of the master. The other steward though is confident in his master’s delay and his conduct is reproachable. Jesus paints an ugly situation: the steward’s abuse of menservants and girls as well as eating and drinking and getting drunk. The consequence is terrible: he will be considered as an “unfaithful” gentile or pagan.
Nevertheless, Jesus makes a distinction among servants according to their awareness of their tasks. Ignorance is a real excuse and the punishment is lighter. But the mind of Jesus is clear: the gifts one receives is proportionate to the responsibility over them.
The Gospel today focuses on the ministers in the Church. It is a clear warning by Jesus. Later, the Fathers of the Church will discourage the ambition to become priest or bishop. They had deep insight on the responsibility, postponing all kind of honor and pride. Therefore, according to the grace we receive let us pray for our utter answer and fidelity to it until the end of our life.
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