October 6, 2013 –– Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
There is a very understandable reason that the United States Bishops titled their Pastoral Letter on stewardship, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. Each of us is called to a life of discipleship if we genuinely seek to be a follower of Jesus Christ. What the Bishops explained in this important document was the reality that one of the most effective ways to be a disciple is to pursue a life of stewardship.
The readings for this 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time deal with faith, salvation, how to live out that faith, and the important characteristics to being a disciple. Previously we have explained some of the debate surrounding the Letter to the Hebrews — whether Paul was the author specifically. We reiterate that it does not matter to us who wrote it; what matters is the message.
The letter was written to a Jewish community that was struggling with faith. However, the basic message is that we are called to follow Jesus Christ — He is indeed the way, the truth, and the life. Much of the letter addresses the question “Why should I follow Christ?” For us it is quite basic — God’s promise to us if we follow Christ is salvation. The final verse of today’s first reading says quite simply, “…the just one, because of his faith, will live.” Thus we acknowledge that being a disciple of Jesus is the way to salvation.
Second Timothy, from which the second reading is drawn, is another letter to Timothy to offer him advice and guidance as to how to live his life as a good Christian — a good steward. Consistently, stewardship is described as a lifestyle that is one of action, not passive in any way. Timothy is urged not to be timid about how he lives out his faith. In fact, he is called to testify on the Lord’s behalf. Another important attribute of stewardship is lay witness. We are called to be more than followers; we are called to share the Good News and to expand how living out our stewardship lives brings us grace and satisfaction. When it comes to discipleship, there are to be no “silent partners.”
Although it is sometimes a challenge to glean the complete message from a scriptural passage, what is declared in this week’s Gospel from Luke lays out a number of means to achieve and accomplish effectively a stewardship way of life. Jesus opens with his declaration about “faith the size of a mustard seed.” Just as the mustard seed bears the ability to produce a large and fruitful plant, the Lord is telling us that if we have a faith that is pure, it, too, can expand and grow within us to produce the Kingdom of God within us and to allow us to accomplish remarkable things.
Jesus calls us in this Gospel to trust God and to serve God. That is exactly what stewardship calls us to. The Lord emphasizes that being a disciple — being a steward — is a community effort. If we think that our faith, our membership in the Lord’s Church, can be a private affair, we are wrong. Prayer can be private, but living out our faith cannot be, for we are a community, and our goal should be not just to serve God, but to serve the community as well. Jesus stated it plainly. Pope Francis said it again his first day in South America: “Go and make disciples of all nations.”