LUKE 12:32-48 [or 12:35-40]
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
Faithful and prudent stewards
Slavery was prevalent in ancient times. At the height of its power, Rome had more slaves than free men. The condition became so unbearable that the slaves, led by Spartacus, revolted and almost toppled the Roman Republic.
In Israel in Jesus’ time, the elite have servants/slaves (Greek douloi) who are employed in agriculture, more often in domestic service. A slave who shows competence and faithfulness may be assigned as the head servant or slave overseer (Greek oikonomos). Usually, he is a man hardened by farm work and tested by experience. If he has a retentive mind and can manage affairs, he may be chosen for the task, even if he may be illiterate. In the Gospel parable, the faithful and prudent oikonomos has been put in charge of his master’s household.
This is an image of true discipleship. A disciple, most especially if he is a leader of a community of believers, must be prudent and dependable in fulfilling his obligation towards believers. He must exercise his duties “at the proper time” and not at his own convenience. Authority is conferred only for a time and is meant for the good of others; otherwise, its abuse will lead to a loss of sense of others, which is tyranny, and loss of sense of self, expressed in excess and bad company. Luke here points out a practical concern: the disciple must not bother with the exact timing of the final coming of Christ; rather, he should concentrate on living the life of a faithful and prudent servant. On this he will be judged.
Religious leaders will always be “servants” of the Lord, and it is only by remaining humble and vigilant that they will prove themselves faithful and prudent stewards of the things of God.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: email@example.com; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.