July 30, 2017 — Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 KGS 3: 5, 7-12; PS 86: 5-6, 9-10, 15-16; ROM 8: 26-27; MT 13: 24-43
Stewardship is, of course, more than just a philosophy; it is total way of life. It is living out a commitment on our part to be God-centered rather than self-centered, which in many ways seems to be the antitheses of lifestyles that are promoted and supported by today’s secular society. Today’s readings on this Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time speak to and address this issue of being God-centered — that is, trusting in God in everything we do.
In the First Reading from First Kings Solomon completely yields to God and places his total trust in the Lord. The Lord appears to Solomon in a dream (one of the more significant dreams in the Bible, one might say), and makes an offer and a promise that is incredible. God says, in effect, “Ask and it is yours. What do you want?” In a humble moment Solomon surrenders all to God and says, “Give your servant an understanding heart.” First of all Solomon is admitting that his tasks are more than he can deal with without the help and assistance of God. That is a conclusion that we, too, should draw. We need God’s help in everything we do or try to do. That is part of living a God-centered life.
Solomon did not ask for great knowledge or power or money. He asked for understanding, and he asked for it in his heart, not in his head. The Hebrew word usually translated as “understanding” actually literally meant “hearing.” Solomon was asking for the Lord’s help in listening to Him and to others. That, too, is an important part of stewardship, being open not only to God but also to those around us, those with whom we come in contact.
St. Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, our Second Reading, opens by saying; “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” This is another way of saying that we need to live God-centered lives. If we rely on God (as Solomon did) we can be assured all things will work out. Trust in God means that we know that God can manage the affairs of our life if we view our lives as being available to God and others in service. Recall that in the First Reading Solomon describes himself as a servant of God. That is what it means to be a disciple, to be willing to serve God and serve others. Stewardship has also been called a life of service.
To serve God we need to know what it is He wants us to do. Seeking this perception, defining our own vocations, is part of our stewardship as well. God does not just do this to us; we must be open to it and seek it. The Lord views us as His children. He has adopted us into His family, and we have accepted that through Baptism and faith. However, do we live it out in reality or do we merely go through the motions? Being a Catholic and being a parishioner is much more than just going to church. It requires us to be active participants and actively involved in all our faith family does and tries to do.
In our Gospel Reading from St. Matthew Jesus again turns to parables to make His point. At the end of the reading Jesus asks His followers: “Do you understand all these things?” and they respond, “Yes.” We might wonder if they really do understand or are they just saying it. We need to ask ourselves that same question, “Do we understand?” Holy Scripture, the Word of God, is something we hear regularly if we are consistent Mass attendees. How much time do we spend considering these Holy Words? That, too, is an important part of stewardship and being God-centered, seeking the understanding in our hearts that Solomon asked for in the First Reading.
Jesus also give assurances that if we practice stewardship, if we make it our way of life, and if we place the Lord at the center of our lives, then all of our hopes will be fulfilled. The term “In God We Trust” has been the official motto of the United States since 1956 (in other words, for more than 60 years). Each of us should adopt that as our motto as well. Most of us are not aware that Francis Scott Key’s Star-Spangled Banner, our national anthem, consists of several stanzas. The fourth stanza includes the phrase, “And this be our motto: ‘In God is our Trust’.” Trust in God is the key to our lives and the key to us being good and faithful Catholics and Christians.