29th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday
In the marbled and malleable world of metaphor and analogy, God changes guises faster than James Bond. Here he steals into our world as a prowling thief:
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.”
The watchful servant of the last parable now dons the costume of the master, and the master slinks in the dark suit of a cat burglar. The “Parables of Jesus” is a gangbuster variety show!
The celestial crook neglected to make an appointment and broke in without warning. Surprise!
Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
The vigilance required of the master of the house (a.k.a. watchful servant) seemed like a weighty responsibility. Perhaps Peter was feeling the weight of the “rock.”
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.
Switcheroo! Lights on, center stage. Without intermission the cat burglar suddenly turns master, and the master’s robe transmutes into an apron. The steward is left alone with his appointed task. But when the cat’s away, the mice will play?
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.
Misuse of power and carousing by the majordomo result in severe penalties. Stewards who misbehave with full knowledge are held more accountable than those who deviate out of ignorance.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
In this world, inequalities of rank and ability are obvious, but the virtue of faithful stewardship is open to all to an infinite degree. St. Stephen the deacon is one with the chief of apostles, St. Peter, and the anonymous women who ministered to Jesus (Luke 8:1-3) are the true daughters of Mary, the handmaid of the Lord.
All that we are belongs to God. The heavenly housebreaker lives in our heart continually and every moment is Now. Blessed are we who serve the One who made all things out of nothing. In his hands, our emptiness becomes fullness.