Readings and Responsorial psalm:
Reading 1: AM 8:4-7
Responsorial Psalm: PS 113:1-2, 4-6, 7-8
Reading 2: 1 TM 2:1-8
Liturgical colour: Green.
The Parable of the Unjust Servant which we are told about in Today’s Holy Gospel readings, is not the first occasion that Jesus has used a Parable about an unrighteous person to illustrate the point which he’s telling us in regard to righteousness. The Parable of the Unrighteous Judge in Luke 18:1-8 is an example of another such case of usage. But to fully understand Jesus’ point, we need to break down the symbolism to see the true principle which is being illustrated.
The Lord in this Parable is recognized easily as being the Lord Our God. To Our Lord and Saviour, every one of us are the earthly stewards of His creation and of the blessings God our Father lovingly grants to us. When God created the earth, He gave mankind dominion over it. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth”” (Genesis 1:28).
A steward is a fit description of our roles upon earth. A steward owns not the things which they manage. In the same way God gives us our lives to manage, but our lives and indeed everything that we have belongs to God. “And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:42-48).
With the blessings God has granted to each and every one of us comes a varying amount of skills, talents and abilities. We each have our different given blessings to use and God expects us to use those abilities well and for God’s purpose. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). One of the major duties God has given us as Christians is the spreading of the gospel. “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (I Corinthians 4:1-2).
We naturally expect that a servant entrusted with a master’s possessions and given critical tasks would be faithful in fulfilling the trust which the master placed in the servant. But how many of us are truly faithful stewards of God? Have we not all wasted precious time on the job, time that could have been profitably used in the Master’s service at some time within our lives? We have all bypassed opportunities that could have brought great profit to our Master. Instead, we often apply our talents toward things that our Master is not interested in. In short, we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Just like the man in today’s parable, each one of us are in truth unjust stewards.
The unjust steward in today’s Parable didn’t want to work for a living; he was too lazy to put in much effort. Doesn’t that describe you and I at some stage of our life? How many of us would prefer to seek the easiest way out, the way that requires least effort from us? The unjust steward refused to beg; because he had too prideful. Here too most of us are guilty at some point of our lives.
Being forewarned that he is about to lose his job, the unjust steward brilliantly provides for himself by making use of his Lord’s resources. But note carefully that the lord doesn’t commend the mismanagement of his possessions. “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly” (Luke 16:8). Jesus is not praising his unrighteous actions. The admiration is for the brilliant planning.
We too have been warned that we don’t have much time left for our stewardship upon the earth as our earthly Life is short. It is merely passing through and will not last forever. “For what is our life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). In real terms, it won’t be long before we will have to stand before our Lord and give an account of our stewardship. “And as it is appointed for mankind to die once, but after this to have the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27). “So then each of us shall give account of ourselves to God” (Romans 14:12).
All parables are aimed toward illustrating to us a particular point. They start to break down when they are stretched too far or applied to the wrong point. In essence, Jesus is stating that the ungodly people in this world know the ways how to achieve the most from the worldly things that, in truth, they don’t even own; but, the so-called godly people don’t know how to get the most from spiritual things of God. “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8). The Pharisees were squandering precious resources. There were people in their midst who needed to be brought back to God and they refused to see their value.
If we are to receive praises from God in the time of our Judgement, we need to make the most of the resources that God has given us, to His purpose. We are not aiming for a better life in this world because our life here is only of a transient nature. We won’t be around long to enjoy it. The only lasting treasure is our eternal heavenly home. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Importantly, what benefits God also benefits us in the long run. If we use God’s gifts to us to provide for ourselves in the hereafter, then we are not wasting our Lord’s resources; we are fufilling God’s will.
“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home” (Luke 16:9). The friends of whom Jesus is speaking are not worldly friends, but are indeed spiritual friends, for they are awaiting to receive us into our eternal heavenly home. As children of God, we need to use the things of this physical world to accomplish the spiritual goals of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (I Timothy 6:17-19). It is our obedience to Christ that creates a lasting friendship with him. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).
Jesus also informs us that God is watching all that we do with the smaller things that He gives us in our judge if we are faithful enough to handle the more important things. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12). We use this principle in business. You don’t put a young person, fresh from college or training, to be in charge of your company. You start them out on small jobs. If they can handle it, you promote the person. The fact is that people tend to behave in the same way, whether dealing with little or bigger things. A person who is willing to steal small change will have not have any restraint if an opportunity arises to steal a larger fortune. Thus, we can view this life as a test for promotion to the next and eternal life. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and they will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). If we can’t make profitable use of our borrowed lives from God, why should we be given eternal life?
The Pharisees and scribes true problem was that they were too caught up in their current lives. They had lost the true perspective. They had lost sight of the spiritual goal and had made their priority living in the earthly realm. “No servant can serve two masters; for either they will hate the one and love the other, or else they will be loyal to one and will despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). Something must give. You have to make a choice regarding who you will serve.
What will you do with the earthly life God has loaned to you?
Let us pray:
God, Creator and Giver of all that is good, we thank you for our many blessings. Mindful of your generosity, we acknowledge that all that we have is from you. Daily, we offer you thanks and praise for the beauty of the earth, our work, our family and our loved ones.
In the dawning of a new day, You are with us. In each dark hour, You are here. Blessed by Your grace, we show gratitude by sharing what we have. By serving our brothers and sisters, we serve You.
As You protect and guide us on our journey, we, Your stewards, remain ever grateful for Your constant love.