The fourth Sunday of the period of Great Lent is called the Sunday of the Steward. The message of the day teaches us of the parable of the unjust steward. This parable is mentioned only in the Gospel of St. Luke (Luke 16:1-13).
The legendary and famous parable of the unjust steward, from ancient times until today, has been one of the more troubling and controversial passages in all of the Gospels. Theologians and Church Fathers of all Christian traditions have wrestled with its seemingly contradictory message of condoning fraud and criminal business practices. What the Church has inherited are numerous interpretations as to what message Jesus was trying to convey through this parable.
In the story, a steward has not been responsible with his master’s affairs and property. The master, in turn, instructs the steward to get his books together before his dismissal. To secure his future, the steward finalises his books, through questionable business practices, by discounting the debts owed to his master.However, in the process, the steward makes friends with those who owed his master, by earning their gratitude. When the master finds out what his steward did, rather than further accuse him, he commends his clever ingenuity, even though he would be losing money. One can clearly see the internal difficulties and thus, the challenge in interpreting this parable.
In Jesus’ time, there were those who claimed to belong to the people of God but proved to not be good stewards of what he entrusted to them. They excluded and restricted people, demanded and extracted from them, and wasted those resources on themselves rather than show mercy to those in need. Perhaps the message is that the children of the light (the Church, the people of God) are not as diligent or committed to their mission and calling as are the children of the world (the Pharisees) in their pursuit of earthly goals.
The steward was concerned for his material future, those things that are highly esteemed among humanity: money, power, position, and praise. As Christians, as the Church, we should be concerned with the Kingdom of God, storing up treasures in heaven. How do we do that? We use our wealth, the resources given to us by God, for those in need, for good works. Everywhere Jesus went, the Kingdom of God was at hand, and everything he did was the coming of his Kingdom. And so to be a citizen of his Kingdom, is simply to live as if Jesus is our King, who gives us his wealth to use for his purposes.
With the freedom to love and serve one another, each of us, at every moment, is directed with the eternal warning to give the account of our stewardship.