November 4, 2018 — Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel reading brings us to the very essence of a stewardship way of life, as Jesus responds to a question posed to Him by one of the scribes: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” His answer is a beautiful and concise description of a Christian steward’s life: “The first [commandment] is this… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Let’s consider these “greatest commandments” as they relate to three aspects of a Christian steward’s daily life — the use of our time, of our talents and of our material treasure.
The use of time in the context of stewardship refers primarily to our relationship with the Lord — in other words, our prayer life. Since time is a gift to me from God, I show my love for Him and my gratitude for this gift by giving Him the best portion of my time. My best time for prayer may be first thing in the morning before the noise and hectic pace of the day begin. It may be a few quiet moments at my desk during my lunch break. Or it could be in the evening with my spouse after the children have gone to bed. Of course, it is vital to talk to God throughout the day, but if I really want to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, shouldn’t I make time for God “first” on my agenda each day? Not as an afterthought, but as a time I have intentionally chosen to spend only with Him.
The use of talents in the context of stewardship refers to the way I offer the abilities, skills, and interests the Lord has given me for the good of those around me. While our loving Father gives us these things for our own enjoyment, He also intends for us to use them to help others. Doing so is a practical way to “love my neighbor as myself.” At the same time, it is also a way to love the Lord with all that I am and have since He has told us that whatever we do for others we are also doing for Him.
The use of material gifts in the context of stewardship likewise demonstrates both love of God and of neighbor. When I trustingly offer a sacrificial gift to God through the offertory collection, I am showing Him in a very tangible way that He comes before all else in my life. At the same time, my gift is also a gift to my neighbor and a way to show my love for others through needed material assistance for charitable works, religious formation of parish children and adults, and the many other ways that our parish family works together to worship and serve the Lord and our community.