February 3, 2019 — Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” These ancient words in our First Reading from the Book of Jeremiah are meant for each one of us reflecting on them today! God has given us, His children, a purpose and mission to fulfill while we are here on this earth. Embracing stewardship as a way of life helps us to both find and fulfill the unique mission that God has in mind for each one of us. How?
Stewardship helps us to continuously evaluate all areas of daily life. It calls us first to come to an awareness of the specific gifts God has given us in each area. Once we have been awakened to the particular ways in which God has blessed us, we can set about putting those gifts to the best possible use for the advancement of His Kingdom. While every baptized Christian is called to this universal mission, God has in mind a unique way for each one of us to carry it out. We need to ask ourselves if our daily use of the Time, Talent, and Treasure God has given us aligns with this mission in the individual circumstances of our lives right now.
But what is the real measuring stick in each of these areas? Is it the number of Rosaries I can recite in a given week? The number of ministries in which I am involved? The amount of money I give in the weekly offering? How can I tell if I am fulfilling God’s mission for my life?
It is not the numbers themselves that please our Lord. Rather, as St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading today, the “measure” is the love that we put into the Time, Talent and Treasure we offer Him in grateful return. “If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own and hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.” God is not after a particular number. What He wants us to give over to Him is our very selves.
Real love is not a sentiment. Real love is manifested in living a virtuous life. We read later in St. Paul’s letter that real love takes strength: it is patient, kind, humble, other-centered, truth-seeking and long-suffering. Love is the heroic giving of oneself even when it is uncomfortable; especially then. Love looks like Jesus. Love lives like Jesus.
Sometimes, perhaps oftentimes, living like Jesus is difficult. We see this in the Gospel Reading today where we find Jesus in action, preaching in the synagogue in His hometown. He speaks truth to the people He loves, the ones He grew up with and shared His early days with. How do they respond? They are filled with fury and run Him out of town, intent on throwing Him from a cliff! Yet Jesus is undeterred. He passes right through them and presses forward with the mission His Father has entrusted to Him.
We are called to live with this same strength and determination, fueled by the power of love and by gratitude for all God has given us.