Fourth Sunday of Great Lent:
Sunday of the Steward
 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
 Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
 “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning,
 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks.
 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those servants!
 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to 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 all?”
 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?
 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing.
 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
 But if that servant says to himself, `My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, 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 he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful.
 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating.
 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
 Thus says the LORD:
“Keep justice, and do righteousness,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
 Blessed is the man who does this,
and the son of man who holds it fast,
who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it,
and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
 For thus says the LORD:
“To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
which shall not be cut off.
 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
and to be his servants,
every one who keeps the sabbath, and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant —
 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.
 Thus says the Lord GOD,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel,
I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”
 All you beasts of the field, come to devour —
all you beasts in the forest.
 His watchmen are blind,
they are all without knowledge;
they are all dumb dogs,
they cannot bark;
dreaming, lying down,
loving to slumber.
 The dogs have a mighty appetite;
they never have enough.
The shepherds also have no understanding;
they have all turned to their own way,
each to his own gain, one and all.
 “Come,” they say, “let us get wine,
let us fill ourselves with strong drink;
and tomorrow will be like this day,
great beyond measure.”
 The righteous man perishes,
and no one lays it to heart;
devout men are taken away,
while no one understands.
For the righteous man is taken away from calamity,
 he enters into peace;
they rest in their beds
who walk in their uprightness.
 But you, draw near hither,
sons of the sorceress,
offspring of the adulterer and the harlot.
 Of whom are you making sport?
Against whom do you open your mouth wide
and put out your tongue?
Are you not children of transgression,
the offspring of deceit,
 you who burn with lust among the oaks,
under every green tree;
who slay your children in the valleys,
under the clefts of the rocks?
 Among the smooth stones of the valley is your portion;
they, they, are your lot;
to them you have poured out a drink offering,
you have brought a cereal offering.
Shall I be appeased for these things?
 Upon a high and lofty mountain
you have set your bed,
and thither you went up to offer sacrifice.
 Behind the door and the doorpost
you have set up your symbol;
for, deserting me, you have uncovered your bed,
you have gone up to it,
you have made it wide;
and you have made a bargain for yourself with them,
you have loved their bed,
you have looked on nakedness.
 You journeyed to Molech with oil
and multiplied your perfumes;
you sent your envoys far off,
and sent down even to Sheol.
 You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.
 Whom did you dread and fear,
so that you lied,
and did not remember me,
did not give me a thought?
Have I not held my peace, even for a long time,
and so you do not fear me?
 I will tell of your righteousness and your doings,
but they will not help you.
 When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you!
The wind will carry them off,
a breath will take them away.
But he who takes refuge in me shall possess the land,
and shall inherit my holy mountain.
 And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
 For thus says the high and lofty One
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
 For I will not contend for ever,
nor will I always be angry;
for from me proceeds the spirit,
and I have made the breath of life.
 Because of the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry,
I smote him, I hid my face and was angry;
but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.
 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will lead him and requite him with comfort,
creating for his mourners the fruit of the lips.
 Peace, peace, to the far and to the near, says the LORD;
and I will heal him.
 But the wicked are like the tossing sea;
for it cannot rest,
and its waters toss up mire and dirt.
 Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds;
 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart;
 they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
 You did not so learn Christ! —
 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.
 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts,
 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
 and give no opportunity to the devil.
 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice,
 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.
 Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving.
 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
 Therefore do not associate with them,
 for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light
 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
 and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
 For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret;
 but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.
 Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give you light.”
 He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a steward, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.
 And he called him and said to him, `What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’
 And the steward said to himself, `What shall I do, since my master is taking the stewardship away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
 I have decided what to do, so that people may receive me into their houses when I am put out of the stewardship.’
 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, `How much do you owe my master?’
 He said, `A hundred measures of oil.’ And he said to him, `Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’
 Then he said to another, `And how much do you owe?’ He said, `A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, `Take your bill, and write eighty.’
 The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations.
 “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.
 If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will entrust to you the true riches?
 And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?
 No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they scoffed at him.
 But he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
 “The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently.
 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.
 “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.
 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.
 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz’arus, full of sores,
 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;
 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz’arus in his bosom.
 And he called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz’arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’
 But Abraham said, `Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz’arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
 And he said, `Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house,
 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’
 But Abraham said, `They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
 And he said, `No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
 He said to him, `If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America