Sem. George Diones
Our Gospel reading today presents us a very good story about the parable of the tenants. The landowner, after planting his vineyard, he also builds a tower and dug a wine press in preparation for the harvest time. Afterwards, he entrusted it to his tenants and he went on a journey. And remember the landowner “entrusted his vineyard” to the tenants only for them to take care of it. Meaning, the tenants were mere “caretakers” or “stewards” of the vineyard, in Filipino, it captures the meaning as “pinagkatiwalan or katiwala.”
What does it mean to be a steward? According to the New Webster Collegiate Dictionary, a steward is a person entrusted with the management of the affairs of other, or a person put in charge of something. So in other words, the stewards are merely caretakers of something on behalf of the master or the owner. And in our gospel today, the tenants or the “stewards” during the harvest season they refuse to share the fruits or the gifts that are entrusted to them. They forget that they are mere “caretakers of the vineyard”; they are not the owners.
And with these, I would like to mention the Four Principles of Biblical Stewardship. First, The principle of ownership. This is the fundamental principle. God owns everything; we are simply managers or administrators acting on his behalf. Therefore, stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all-encompassing.
Second, The principle of responsibility. Owners have rights; stewards have responsibilities. We are called as God’s stewards to manage that which belongs to God. While God has graciously entrusted us with the care, development, and enjoyment of everything he owns as his stewards, we are responsible to manage his holdings well and according to his desires and purposes.
Third, The principle of accountability. We are all stewards of the resources, abilities, and opportunities that God has entrusted to our care, and one day each one of us will be called to give an account for how we have managed what the Master has given us.
Fourth, The principle of reward. In the parable, it shows that the faithful stewards who do the master’s will with the master’s resources will be rewarded but for those wicked ones the kingdom of God will be taken away from them and will be given to the one who will produce its fruit.
For me, I think stewardship is an assessment of faithfulness. When we are given responsibility to care for something that belongs to another, we are given more than a task, we are given a test. In which the tenants in today’s gospel failed in that aspect because they were overcome by their greed. And I think one key aspect that our Lord brings out in this parable is that stewardship does not only involve the given area of responsibility but the outcome of the fruit. For example, if you have the talent in singing uses your talents like being a choir in the Church so that the celebration of the Holy Eucharist is more joyful. And you have to use your talents in a good way. Unlike the tenants in our Gospel today because of their greediness it ends up killing the servants, including the master’s son, who invites them to share what they have.
As Christians in this century, we need to embrace this larger biblical view of stewardship, which goes beyond money, property, resources or talents but above all our environment. As Pope Francis mentioned in Laudato Si that we need to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek sustainable and integral development, which is the urgent challenge to all of us. We are all stewards of God’s creation here on earth. We are merely caretakers. Since we are caretakers, we should be responsible for what we have done to the owner.
In the end, we are accountable for what we have done in the vineyard of the Lord. So this time, I think we need to ask ourselves, am I a good and faithful steward of the Lord here on earth? Am I helping for the “beautification” of our common home or am I contributing to the destruction of it?