Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
One of the problems in our world is that justice doesn’t come. The legal maxim justice delayed is justice denied reminds us of the consequences of kicking things into the long grass. Dictators, in the words of the hymn by Michael Forster, stay in a guarded palace-tomb, condemned to live and die alone abusing the wealth of their people. Foreign policy is dictated by who we can sell arms to rather than what is right. Day by day men abuse women and children assuming they won’t be called to account.
Jesus’ words in today’s passage remind us that we are stewards who, one day, will have to give account. One day we will either be praised or found wanting. It’s a salutary warning that justice is coming, that judgment is real.
Often we don’t like to think about these themes of justice and judgement preferring to think of a softer, kinder more gentle God; one made in our own image and bourne out of an understandable rejection of previous generations’ obsession with Hellfire. Yet there has to be justice; the world’s poor and downtrodden demand it, the Bible promises it, we need to work for it.
O God of justice, do not wait whilst your people suffer. O God of justice, bring to repentance the dictator, torturer and abuser. O God of justice, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen.
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is a Minister in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster serving Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs.
St. Andrew's United Reformed Church - The United Reformed Church in Monkseaton and Whitley Bay
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