Faithful Stewardship

“I do not pray for success but ask for faithfulness” – Mother Teresa

It was very recently just 2 months ago, I met a Br in Belgaum, who is doing his theological studies in Bombay. Our chat began as usual, then as the moments passed by our conversation became more interesting. One of the topics he shared was his encounter with a married woman during his one-month parish ministry. As he was the in-charge of the choir, he had to phone them up for practice. Days passed. One married woman started texting him saying ‘I am beginning to like you’. Reading this message the Br was shocked. He didn’t know what to reply, he just replied what she really meant. She said ‘I think I love you’. So the Br called her asking if he could meet her next day. And it was during their conversation, he came to know her desire to share her bed. Br was dumb founded by her desire and said no to her proposal, and convinced her to be faithful to her married life. By hearing this I was taken up so much that I said “hats off to you Br, you have not only convinced her of faithfulness to married life but also you have shown the living example for the faithfulness to your call.”

Yes my dear Frs, and Brs, it is faithfulness which is the key for success in our life, be it in little or mighty deeds, married or in religious life.  We see this in today’s gospel too. Jesus speaks of faithful stewardship and unfaithful stewardship and thereby draws a contrast between them.

If we take a close look at today’s gospel, very clearly we see that it has 3 parts: In the first part, it raises a question ‘who is faithful and unfaithful servant?’ In the second, it is illustrated with the parable of two servants to answer the above question. In the third, the destiny or the result of being faithful or unfaithful is portrayed. In fact, this passage echoes the theology of retribution that runs all through the Bible, i.e. the good will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.

There are two kinds of servants in the gospel: 1) faithful/wise servant 2) unfaithful/unwise servant.  The wise servant was always faithful, sincere in his task which the master had entrusted to him. He did it with sincerity regardless of his master’s observation of it. In other words, he neither put on mask, nor played a double game. He just did it faithfully. Consequently, he was blessed with plenty of property.

The other servant was unfaithful. He was lazy and insincere. He did everything just to please his master. When his master was away he indulged in drinking and making merry. Therefore he was punished by being thrown in to the fire of hell.

Here the unwise/unfaithful servant makes two mistakes, and those are the two mistakes which teach us how not to be in our life:

First, he says, “I’ll do whatever I want while my master is away,” this was the same drawback which our first parents had. They committed sin when God was away from them. It was the same reason for David to commit adultery when Uriah was away from him. So it is quite clear that when we are away from God, we are inclined or tempted to sin in our life. We too have a habit of having two different attitudes. When the persons are with us we act one way and when not we act another way.

Second, the mistake the unfaithful servant does is that, he says, “I have plenty of time to put things right before my master comes.” I think most of us fall in this category.  Apparently nothing is more harmful in life than to assume that we have more time. The best e.g. is St Augustine, whose memorial we celebrate today. I think the more St Monica prayed for his conversion, the more he postponed it by saying ‘let me change tomorrow’. So it took so many years for him to come out of the clutches of ‘tomorrow’.

We might be familiar with the story of three devils who were reporting to Lucifer about their mission accomplishment on earth. The first said, “I told them there is no God but they did not accept”. Second devil said “I told them there is no hell but I too failed to convince them”. At last the third devil said “I told them don’t hurry, still there is time and they accepted and are faithfully following it.” The most dangerous day in a man’s life, as I said, is when he learns that there is such a word as tomorrow. There is a saying in Malayalam “Naale naale neele neele”, meaning to say that to the one who says tomorrow, today is narrow.

A popular saying goes, ‘what we are is of what we think’. Similarly, God has given tremendous talents according to his/her own capacities and he has also given us the freedom to choose like that of 2 stewards in the Gospel. But it is left to us in which category we fall into? If we are faithful, God will bless us, if not we will be punished. So let us pray for the grace to be faithful in our lives till the end of our life. May God bless us all.

– Bro. Francis Buddini

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