Jesus said to his disciples: “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.” (Luke 12:39-48)
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 the servant 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.
Picture yourself living in a rented house. The last day of your lease comes around, and you realize that you haven’t fixed all the things needing repair. “Oh, no!” you gasp as you picture the landlord walking through the door. Suddenly you start repairing things for all you’re worth, going over every square inch of the place to make sure nothing is broken. You breathe a sigh of relief when you’re done, and you hope the landlord won’t find any problems!
It’s probably not too far-fetched to say that many of us respond to Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 in the same way. We imagine Jesus as a divine landlord, carrying a big clipboard to check off all of our good and bad points. We realize that he could come back at any time, and we think, “I’d better be in good shape when he arrives, or else!” So, we start taking a spiritual inventory of ourselves, and we panic as we see how much junk we still have to fix.
But that’s not the kind of landlord Jesus is! Certainly, we have to be good stewards and take care of our souls by repenting of any wrongdoing we might be involved in. But Jesus does not want to come back to find us just sitting around saying, “Okay, Lord. Everything’s fixed now. You can come in!” He wants to find us busy, using the gifts he has given us to build his kingdom. If he were a landlord, he would be more likely to ask, “How much did you enjoy your home? How welcoming was for me and others?” before he asked, “How good does it look? How well-maintained is it?”
In fact, Jesus’ parable is meant to get us to look out at the world, not in on ourselves. As good stewards, God wants to see us touching others with the message of his love and power. Let this be a major goal for our lives in 2010. How can we live this out? It could be through a small men’s group at church, where we meet, pray, and have fellowship together. It could be through a ministry that reaches out to the poor and disadvantaged. It could simply be through our even, hopeful disposition at work. It could be how we relate to our children, how we form them, and how we share the good news of Jesus Christ with them. Whatever we do, let’s remember that we have been entrusted with no ordinary wealth. We have his love and mercy and “the riches of his glory” (Ephesians 3:16), and they are a treasure much too valuable to keep to ourselves!
Lord Jesus, you have called me to be a good steward of the many gifts you have bestowed on me. I want to use these gifts to build your kingdom and reach out to those who are in need of your love and mercy. I ask for the grace to say yes to this call for my life.
Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. What has been your past reaction to Jesus’ parable in Luke 12? What new insights have you gained from this article?
2. What is your image of how God sees you? Do you believe he sees you as a beloved son? Why or why not?
3. What do you think it means to be good stewards of the gifts Jesus has given us? How would you assess your own stewardship of these gifts? What steps can you take to improve your stewardship?
4. What do you think these words from the article mean? “In fact, Jesus’ parable is meant to get us to look out at the world, not in on ourselves.” Do you agree with these words? Why or why not?
5. If you are in a men’s group, pray for one another at the end of your meeting that each of you would be the stewards of God’s gifts that you were called to be. Use the prayer at the end of the article as a starting point.