Parable in Luke 12, included in a discourse concerning watchfulness. Matthew 24, has a similar parable as part of the eschatological instruction. In both it is preceded by the parable of the thief in the night. Matthew uses “servant” for “steward” and other variations, and his phraseology is used in the Mass of a bishop-confessor. Perhaps Christ used the parable twice.
The different settings would naturally lead to slightly different meanings. In Matthew it is an answer to the assumption: “Why worry, the Parousia is far off.” In Luke it is an answer to Peter’s query, “Dost thou speak this parable (of the thief) to us?” and emphasizes the responsibility of the ministers of the church. According to the parable, a wealthy master going abroad for a long time must appoint one of his servants to the task of meting out to the slaves their daily rations of corn; if he prove faithful, though not suspecting the earlier return of the master, he will be highly rewarded. The parable applies to the Apostles and their successors. It may be used apologetically since it presupposes the continuation of the apostolate till the Parousia.