Wednesday of week 29 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 12:39-48

Today we have some further warnings on readiness. The unpredictability of God’s coming for the final call is compared to a thief breaking into one’s house. If one knew when the thief was coming, one would be prepared and have everything well locked up. Few people have not had this experience of being burgled or had their pocket picked. The point is that we do not know the day or the hour. And “the Son of Man will come when you least expect him”.

Peter asks if this image is just for the disciples or for the whole world. Jesus answers by telling a parable.

A faithful and farsighted steward is one who is found doing his job for the household whenever the master returns. The steward was one who had responsibility over the other servants and Jesus could be referring here to his apostles and other leaders of the Christian community. A trusted slave (‘servant’) too could sometimes be put in charge of an estate.

But if the steward feels that the master is “long in coming” and sets about abusing the rest of his staff and wasting his time in debauching himself, he will be severely punished when his master returns unexpectedly. We know that the early Christians believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime but, as time went on and there was no sign of Jesus, Christians could be tempted to become less vigilant and begin to ‘live it up’. It was a dangerous thing to do.

But then Jesus makes a distinction. Those who know their master’s wishes (like his disciples) but are found misbehaving when he returns will be severely punished. Those who do not know (non-disciples, outsiders) will still be punished for doing wrong but their punishment will be less than those who have received their master’s teaching and instructions.

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