Luke 12: 32-48
“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
When the Master Shows Up
“Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives; they’re awake—and so blessed!
“You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn’t have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. So don’t you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don’t expect him, the Son of Man will show up.”
Peter said, “Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?”
The Master said, “Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he’s doing his job. But if he says to himself, ‘The master is certainly taking his time,’ begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes.
“The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
Jesus tells us God loves us and wants to give us the Kingdom of Heaven. But that is something we have to wait for, and while we wait, we need to live well, trust in God, be generous to those who are less fortunate than us. He says we must let go of our obsession with stocking up on material things – God will give us what we need. Our own resources can’t be relied on – we are all too aware these days that banks can go bankrupt. The ‘stuff’ we buy or wish we could afford doesn’t last, and the pleasure we get from it can be unsatisfying, and can divert our attention from the true enjoyment of sharing our lives and what we have with the people around us. We need to play our part in building the Kingdom.
The bad manager in Jesus’s parable can’t be trusted to do what his master expects of him when he’s left to his own devices. God is always with us, and he gave us free will to make our own choices, and therefore, our own mistakes. But he also gave us advice like this from Jesus, on what choices we need to make, and how we need to trust God to provide what we need instead of obsessing about material things. It can be hard to ‘let go and let God’, but I know I don’t think enough about the fact that God has placed enormous trust in every one of us, and that trust deserves to be mutual.
Jesus reminds us we always need to be prepared to meet God. We see plenty of quotes on social media that say something like ‘live each day as if it was your last’, and though they can seem a bit twee, that’s pretty much what Jesus tells us to do here. But he doesn’t mean party and fit in all the amazing stuff you may not be around to do tomorrow. He means we need to live today in a way that allows us to talk to God at the end of the day and say, 'I tried to do my best today, Lord.'
We’re all human so we’re far from perfect, and we’ll never get to the end of a day having done everything right, but if we always think of giving our account of the day to God each night, this can encourage us to make sure we use the gifts he’s given us to try and be the best version of our ourselves that day – to behave in a way we can be proud of and to make God proud of us. As the scripture says, with great gifts come great responsibilities. We will almost always see things we could have done better or differently, but we can talk to God about that and ask him to help us work on those things for the future.
At the end of World Youth Day 2016, Pope Francis gave us some good advice on sorting out our priorities for living a good life: “Download the best link of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary.”
Salesian Communications Worker
Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will.
Prayer of St Ignatius