Reflecting on this seeming contradiction may help us understand the final petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “put us not to the test” – i.e., “help us not to be tripped up when you inaugurate your reign among us, which will surely upset the way we have ordered our world”. It also helps us understand what Jesus announced (and what he told his disciples to announce) when they traveled around the towns of Palestine. “The reign of God is among you. Repent!” “Repent” here means not so much “feel contrition” for sin but “change your values! change your priorities!” The gospels are filled with examples of God’s priorities, of how God’s reign/rule works – the prodigal son, the unprofitable servant, the woman who washed Jesus’ feet at the house of Simon the Pharisee – on and on. Not our way at all.
In today’s gospel Jesus isn’t talking about God as an international investment banker. Money is just a metaphor. The underlying message is very clear: What we have received is not for us alone; it is to be shared and thereby multiplied. We are stewards, pure and simple. Not just of money – but of talent, aptitude, opportunity, health, heritage, industriousness – everything. It’s all gift, no matter how hard we seem to have worked for it. (Others have worked as hard, but failed.) None of it is intended mainly for us, the caretakers. It is to be given, not kept. If we don’t see to it that it benefits everyone else, then we’ve failed, and we’ve lost everything we had been given to boot. Yes, indeed. Not our way at all.
Chance alone ensures that assets will become unevenly distributed over time, whether money, talent, or opportunity. Restoring some measure of evenness is up to us as the stewards of all God’s gifts. It won’t happen without us. A disciple of Jesus is not just a believer, not just a member of a Christian church, but someone who actively continues the Master’s work.
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