Surely you have already heard of the commission of God's grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God's grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Jesus said, "You should know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour."
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 servants, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant 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 servant says to himself, 'My master is delayed in coming,' and if he begins to beat the other servants, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant 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 servant who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But the 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 the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.
Luke seems to say that Jesus has gone on a long journey away across the horizon, beyond our ken. Ephesians offers another perspective: we already possess the mystery of Christ in us, and we are still seeking the fullness of this mystery. We are advised to live each day as though the Son of Man were at the door, already knocking and ready to come in; as loyal servants, we must be ready when he comes. The idea of "servant" occurs repeatedly in the gospel. Here Jesus tells the parable of the unworthy steward who began to abuse the housemen and servant girls, to eat and to get drunk. This steward is a servant himself, only of a higher position, but has forgotten most elementary norms of justice and concern for others. The wise steward-servant was to be a just and faithful in his service.
Ephesians concentrates on the far horizons, lost in a golden insight, an extraordinary revelation. Note the repetition of such phrases as: God's secret plan, the mystery of Christ, the unfathomable riches of Christ, the mysterious design hidden in God, the Creator of all. God's age-old purpose has existed before creation and controlled the making of the universe. It exists now throughout the world, whether people realize it or not, accept it or not. In light of the gospel, this Ephesians text takes on another nuance. The master comes unexpectedly from all corners of the universe. Jesus is knocking at our door, literally everywhere. He is rising to new life in people and places where we would least expect it. Such is "God's secret plan." We, as stewards of the house, must not mistreat nor abuse anyone. We need to care for each person, and be very solicitous about the use of God's good earth. Any moment, any time Jesus will come and knock.
We don't much like to be taken by surprise. We like to think that we have a good idea of what is coming down the road and when it is coming. Yet, we know from experience that the unexpected does happen. It is that experience of the unexpected that features in the parables Jesus speaks in this morning's gospel. The burglar breaks through the wall of a house at an hour nobody expects; the master arrives home at a time when his irresponsible servant is not expecting him. Jesus indicates that there can be the element of the unexpected in his relationship with us and ours with him.
The Son of Man comes at an hour we do not expect. We may be inclined to relate this warning to the hour of our death; sudden and unexpected death is certainly a reality. However, more is being referred to than that. The coming of the Son of Man to us in the course of our lives can also be unexpected. The Lord may call us to do something we had never thought about; he may take us down a path we might never have gone done if left to ourselves. The Lord can come to us through unexpected people, through people we would never associate as the Lord's messengers. The gospel suggests that when it comes to the Lord, we can expect the unexpected. As Isaiah says, God's ways are not our ways, God's thoughts are not our thoughts.