Although Jesus and the Apostles were not out begging for food, money was not their priority. Consider the influence that money has on our decisions. We choose careers, vocations, even spouses in order to secure a future free of worries. The dream is to have more than we need and for our children to inherit a better life than the one we had. Since humanity has always been preoccupied with possessions, Jesus chose to communicate in stories that we could understand—in our mundane language. Therefore, Jesus told a “what if” story. Suppose there is a master who has lots of money and a servant whom he is willing to put in charge of all his possessions. Imagine the trust level that the master must have for his servant. The master was willing to hand the servant the keys to his kingdom. Jesus asked, “For what kind of servant is the master looking?” “What characteristics would the master want his servant to have?” Obviously, someone who will be responsible and never abuse the privilege he/she has been given. But we know the “old saying”, possession is 9/10th of the law. What if the master takes a long time in returning? What if the servant is tempted to think that the master might never return? Jesus describes a “party time”, because when the cat’s away, the mice will play. The irresponsible servant engaged in abuse, debauchery, sexual misbehavior.
There were no outside monitors, no alarms, no “find my friends” so that the servant would know when the master was going to return. In the story the master comes back when he was not expected and finds his household upside down. Although the emotion of the master is not mentioned, we can imagine that the master was furious. Jesus mentioned that the servant was knowledgeable of the master’s will. He knowingly disobeyed. The same knowledge is applied when we speak about serious sin. The first condition for serious sin is to know that something is evil and to desire to do it. And then to do it. Three conditions are necessary for serious sin: to know something is evil, to contemplate doing it and then to do it. Therefore, the desire to kill your mother-in-law is not a sin, only if you actually kill her. Temptations happen every day, all the time. Temptations are not sinful, only when we act upon them. Without a doubt the servant in the story had contemplated his actions and knowingly disobeyed his master’s orders.
He violated the trust that had been given to him. When we sin, we violate the trust that has been placed on us. God is the master who has placed the world in our hands. No secret, we have our share of problems. Blame is often placed on government officials, the school system, lack of moral values—somebody’s got to be to blame! Do we suppose that the master in the story punished everybody? Was he angry with everybody? Apparently, he only held the servant in charge responsible. He punished him severely. He threw him out to be with the unfaithful. The story goes on to describe an ignorant servant—a person who acted perhaps in desperation but did not deliberately set out to disobey the master. That’s where most of us fit. Not we would dare to classify ourselves as ignorant, but there is a lot of ignorance in matters of the Faith. For example, some folks think that they have committed a grave sin by breaking a promise they made not to eat meat for a week. Just think, do we really think that God cares whether we eat meat or not? Is God keeping track of our menus? That master wants us to get along—to take care of each other, especially the folks who have no voice, especially the poor. We are His property. Every person is His possession. Each of us is responsible. We have all been left in charge.
One day the master will return. Every one of us will have to give an account of our stewardship. Much has been entrusted so much will be required.