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Catechesis on the Parables of Jesus: The Conscientious Steward
Catechesis on the parables is a central element in our catechesis on the Kingdom of God. Here we consider the meaning of the parable of the faithful steward. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find him so doing. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed’, and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Matt. 24:45-51. See also Luke 12:42-46 The placing of this parable within the cycle of Gospel readings for the Church’s Year gives us our first clue for how we are to interpret this parable. There are two renderings of the parable, in the Gospels of Matthew and of Luke, and in each case the Church places it so that we can understand that it concerns the end times and the second coming of Christ. These are themes that appear, interestingly, both at the beginning and at the end of the Church’s Year. The placing of this parable of the wise and faithful, or conscientious, servant within each of the Gospels, of Matthew and Luke, provides us with our second clue. Both Matthew and Luke set the parable in the context of teachings by Jesus on the need to be ready for the Master’s return. Matthew and Luke share one element of this Gospel context in common: immediately preceding the parable is a reference to a burglar who comes and steals from the house. Then, preceding this mini-parable, the two Gospels offer us different perspectives: Matthew’s Gospel records Jesus’ saying about the days of Noah before the Flood, while Luke presents us with a parable of men waiting for the Master to come for the wedding feast.