Setting Priorities in our Lives
Today’s Gospel passage reflects questions that arose from the early Christian belief that Jesus would soon return in his glory and the delay that had already occurred. Written more than half a century after Jesus’ death, this Gospel needed to address concerns regarding laxity on the part of the members of the community who had already been waiting for Jesus’ coming and were discouraged at his delay.
Luke’s parable of the faithful servants raises the question: what should characterize a steward in light of the certainty of coming accountability? The picture presented in the Gospel is of a master who is returning from a trip. What is the tendency of workers when the boss is away? To slack off! Those that slack off invariably get caught sleeping when the boss shows up. There is a need for faith and faithfulness in light of the coming judgment and rewards to be given when Christ returns. Even if there is a delay, the message is clear: be ready! Faithfulness will be proportionately rewarded. Lack of faithfulness may indicate lack of faith, making one susceptible to judgment. The Gospel passage clearly identifies the Kingdom of God as our ultimate concern. The Kingdom does not result from human ingenuity; it is the pure gift of God. Jesus states the classic measure of priorities: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).
Jesus also speaks of priorities in the lives of Church leaders. The world focuses its values and priorities around power, success, popularity, and pleasure. People in roles of leadership sometimes choose power over justice as their ultimate concern. Today’s Scripture readings help us to measure these values and priorities against the ultimate concerns of the Kingdom. The leader is first of all a humble servant. Jesus states the leader’s responsibility in this way: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). The greater one’s position, the greater the expectations – and the greater the accountability.