33rd Sunday: Stewardship, Service and Salvation
In the book Values for Life, the author presents a story of Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, who was standing at the street corner one day laughing like a man out of his mind.
- “What are you laughing about?” asked a passerby.
- “Do you see that stone in the middle of the street? Since I got here this morning, ten people have stumbled on it and cursed it but not one of them took trouble to remove it so that others wouldn’t stumble. Everyone thinks that it is somebody else’s responsibility and not ours.”
Based on the readings I would like to reflect on the Theme of Stewardship as it invites us to Service so we can find Salvation.
We live in a society where my rights have become more important than my responsibilities. In the first reading, the Book of Proverbs praises the woman who cares for her family with joy and serves the poor and the needy. She is exemplified as a good steward: trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, kind, loving and a faithful follower of God. As a good steward, without counting the cost, she is using her time, her ability, her efforts “to be fruitful” in her family and community. In the Gospel reading, we hear that the Master entrusts his property to them… “to each according to his ability.” The Master trusts in their ability and gives them to trade or invest in his property. But when the Master returns, the response of those slaves is different. Unlike the master who trusts them, one of them, does not trust in his own abilities to invest the talent given to him as he “hid his master’s money.”
Stewardship is the ability to recognize God’s many gifts we have received and creatively explore ways to use them for the greater good of the community. Stewardship begins with knowing ourselves, the potentialities of our personalities, our commitment within the call of God, and our service within our humanity.
Stewardship leads to Service. A good steward spends his or her time, talent, treasures in the service of others. Good stewards are not self-centered, nor selfish. They are not self-served nor do they further their profits at the expense of others. When we make use of time and talents, we can be valuable or venerable, receive congratulations or criticisms, but authentic Stewards remain faithful to their call to serve and remain devotedly committed to their ministry.
Good Stewards serve with love and humility. “Humility” as Mother Teresa said, “is the mother of all virtues; it is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted, and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you are what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” Service is stewardship in action as it challenges, clarifies and contributes to our personal growth and community welfare. Without service, our stewardship loses its purpose and meaning – like the “talent hidden in the ground gets not results” Let us “not fall asleep” or “hide” but “let us keep awake and be sober” and most importantly “abide in our Lord” so we have strength and courage to serve the people of God as Good Stewards building God’s kingdom of love, joy and peace.
Good Stewards through their service find fulfillment and salvation. The good Steward, like the woman presented in the Proverbs, finds delight and fruitfulness in the works for her family and society. When we serve, we find fulfillment filled with joy and peace. Today we are called to follow the courageous and committed service of the woman to find salvation in our life, and not the cowardly example of the servant who hid his talents. Through their service, good stewards become, what St. Paul would call them as “children of light and children of the day.” They are always ready to receive their Master – “Keeping always awake” They are not afraid nor do they live in fear or hiding, because they know they have not abused or misused their master’s treasures given to them.
Today as we celebrate the world day of the Poor, we acknowledge, support and pray for every person who helps to reduce poverty in this world. Poverty is not just materialistic, as it is most of time experienced by those who suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We are blessed with many good stewards, men and women who serve to bring healing and joy to the families and communities.
Today we are grateful for all parents who love and care for their children and find joy to know that their children have become good human being. We thank the teachers who witness their students graduate and become successful in their professions. We thank all health care workers, counsellors, and social workers who rejoice when they bring healing to the people they serve. We thank artists, artisans, and all who work in private and public sectors, who find because of their service, the world has become a better place.
We also remember pray for all who are in a spiritual field, both clergy and lay ministers who find fulfilment in their ministry in the church and community.
In the end, may all of us listen to those beautiful words of our Master: “Well done, You are Good and Trustworthy, enter into the joy of your master."
Author: Fr. Wilson Andrade, C.S.C
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