Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Master's Goods

Today's Gospel (Matthew 24: 42-51) is a very timely lesson from the Lord. Given the recent earthquake in this part of the country, and the impending hurricane expected this weekend, a caution that "at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come" seems to be very apt.
I would like to reflect on the second part of the Gospel, in which the Lord reflects on the servant who is given responsibility for the household while the master is away. He tells us that if the servant acts properly, he will be blessed. But, if the servant acts improperly, there will be consequences. If we examine the actions of the one who does not act properly, we see that he treats the master's property as if it were his own. Without regard to the fact that he is a mere steward, the servant begins to act like a master, eating and drinking as he wishes, using the master's property as he wishes instead of as the master wishes.
When we think about our own "property", we have to ask ourselves "What is really mine?" Even our salary, that which we earn by our labor - how much of it is really mine? Even before I receive what I have earned, the government takes a chunk. More of it goes to the bank for my mortgage, credit cards and other loans. I have to pay utility companies, the grocery store and doctors. Even the money that is "left over" never really stays with me very long. So how can I say that it is mine? And what will I be able to take with me when I die? In reality, I am a mere custodian of material things, and even then for a relatively short time.
So the question becomes - to whom does it all really belong? I would suggest that the answer is God, since He alone will always be around and, after all, He created everything to begin with. So, how much concern do I give to what God wants me to do with things? It is a very powerful and disconcerting question. I thinkl it is probably one that I do not ask often enough, especially when I am making decisions about what to do with "my" things. I have to be careful not to fall into the trap of the servant who lives as if all the master's goods were his. God certainly has a plan for each of us, and He provides us with the means to live out His plan. It is probably a good idea to keep check on ourselves, so that we will be using these means - the Master's goods - as He wants. Failure to do so could end up with us wailing and grinding teeth, which is not a very attractive picture!

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