February 27, 2011 — Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
How much does God love you? As much, he says through the prophet Isaiah, as a mother loves her child. And although we may hear about an occasional mother who may forget or reject her child, the Lord promises he will never forget his people.
Those comforting words came when the people of Israel felt that God had forgot them. Jesus offers the same message of God’s love in the Gospel for today. How can God not love the people he has created in his own image? He loves his creation and even makes food available for the birds and clothes the plants with beautiful foliage and blossoms. He is not going to do less for humans.
But along with this encouraging message, Jesus, as he so often does, issues a challenge: “You cannot serve God and mammon [riches]… Do not worry about your life… Seek first the kingdom of God… Do not worry about tomorrow.” If we believe God loves us, we need to trust him to provide us with what we need. Worry that we will not have the necessities of life shows lack of trust in God. If we concentrate on amassing wealth, we’re serving money – and we can’t serve both God and money. If God provides with more than the essentials, our response should be one of thanksgiving.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians about the Christian’s role as a steward. He had in mind his responsibility as an apostle sharing the Gospel message that Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection, has restored the relationship between God and mankind broken by sin, a message St. Paul termed “the mysteries of God.” He points out that a steward’s first responsibility is to be “trustworthy” to the owner of a property. In addition, Paul, as a steward of the Lord’s spiritual riches, is to be judged by God alone.
We also are called to be stewards. Most of us are not stewards of the heavenly treasures in the same sense that Paul was as an apostle. That is the role of the ordained clergy, who provide the sacraments to the People of God. But we are called to be stewards of the time, the talent, and the treasure that God has entrusted to us. After all, he is still their owner, and we are his stewards. And like Paul, we have the requirement to be faithful, and we also will have to give to God an account of our stewardship.
How can we show that we are stewards who are serving God and not mammon, that we are seeking first the kingdom of God, and that we do not worry about tomorrow? One good way is to adopt the practice of tithing recommended throughout Holy Scripture. Taking one tenth of the income one receives and giving it to be used by the Church and other charitable agencies is a practice based on trusting God to provide for our needs, even though the one who tithes will undoubtedly forgo some wants.
The worldly wisdom Paul has written about in the readings for the past weeks would consider the practice of tithing to be absolute foolishness, but to the person who relies on God and desires to be a trustworthy steward, it’s the result of true wisdom.