The author, C.S. Lewis writes in his book, Mere Christianity,:
“Every faculty you have: your power of thinking or moving your limbs from moment to moment – is given to you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service – you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.”
Jesus talked a lot about stewardship. He used parables, such as the one he tells today, to teach deeper principles about discipleship --- and he reminds his followers that our hearts --- follow our treasure. . .
In Jesus time, the steward was the manager of a wealthy person’s household. The steward was not the owner of the assets: the house, the servants, the barns and the things they stored – but was to be a responsible care-taker and dispenser of the owner’s property: he was the one that kept things running.
So the steward, a good steward, was someone who had to be trustworthy, honest, loyal, hardworking, and respected and respectful. They needed to be able to view each thing - and especially each person – as a precious and vital resource of great potential for the owner.
The parable Jesus tells today is of a steward who failed miserably at being good at what he was called to do. This steward was reported to his master for SQUANDERING his property.
SQUANDER means to waste something – especially money or time – in a reckless and foolish manner. Synonyms include: misspend, misuse, throw away, dissipate, fritter away, and make poor use of ------------ not someone, I think, any of us ------would want handling our assets.
And so the master calls him on the carpet – and tells him he can no longer be his steward.
But then - -something happens. This steward becomes very cunning in making sure he has friends after his dismissal.
He becomes very creative in doctoring the invoices and cutting deals – and regains so much of the owners loans – that his master “commends him for acting prudently.” Meaning he praised him formally or officially for acting with or showing care and thought for the future --------- but it doesn’t mean he got his job back!
Whenever I hear this parable and think about it and pray about it --- I always wonder – why did the steward not just do the job he was entrusted with doing in the first place???
Why did he wait until he was called on the carpet before he started acting prudently – which he should have been doing all along??? Why was this man re-active, rather than pro-active – in being a responsible care-taker and dispenser of the owner’s property?
And then I can’t help but think the same thing about the Bishops in our Church. . .
No doubt we live in a very different, and very safer – church than we lived in and had 17 years ago before the Boston Globe first broke the story of the abuse of children and cover ups that had occurred for years. . .
We now have what is called the Dallas Charter – so called because it came out of the Bishops’ meeting in June of 2002, which met in Dallas that year. The Charter which gives the Church a comprehensive set of procedures to address sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Clergy – one of which is to simply cooperate with civil authorities when a suspected crime has been committed – what a novel idea!!!!!!
This, and the other procedures put in place – are signs of being a good steward – of being a responsible care-taker of the most important assets, our children, entrusted to the Church by God -------------- but why did it take getting caught in a cover up --- and getting called on the carpet for this to happen?
Those of us who do ministry in the Church with children– know that these days we just can’t show up and do something – we have to undergo a criminal background check, take Virtus training on creating and maintaining safe environments and boundaries, and keep current on our training. Since 2004 – I have done two live trainings, been through 4 versions of on-line training and have read 227 training bulletins. .
Yes, we are better stewards of our children these days – but why did we have to be re-active, rather than pro-active?
Many priests have been removed from ministry and have gone to prison for their misdeeds -----and rightly so!
But when is someone finally going to hold the Bishops accountable for moving abusive priests from parish to parish --- and covering up their actions?
Like the dishonest steward in the parable who lost the confidence of his master --- I think the church has certainly lost the confidence of those who strive to be faithful followers of Christ – and who have not had good role-models of stewardship – many in leadership positions have failed to be responsible care-takers of the souls that were entrusted to them by God: have failed to view each person, especially the most vulnerable – as a precious and vital resource of great potential for the glory of God and God’s kingdom.
BUT, just because we have not had good role-models in stewardshp doesn’t mean that we should become wasteful, reckless, or foolish in what God has entrusted to us – which truly is everything that we have and own.
As C.S. Lewis said: “every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs form moment to moment, is given you by God. And if you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service, you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already.”
We need to be faithful stewards of all God has given us. We need to use each and every opportunity given to us as a gift by God --- to glorify God, to serve the common good, and to help build the Kingdom of God in our midst. . .
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