July 21, 2019 — Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today’s readings are chock full of inspiration for living a stewardship way of life, starting with our first reading, from Genesis. Here we see the stewardship concept of hospitality at work as Abraham offers a generous welcome to three mysterious men who appear at the entrance to his tent. Some Church fathers hold that the three men are an early symbol of our Triune God; others contend that the three men are angels. In any case, Abraham welcomes them warmly in true stewardship hospitality, offering them a good meal and some cool water with which to refresh themselves. In return for his generosity, one of the three men promises that Abraham’s elderly wife would miraculously give birth to a son, a promise which indeed comes true.
In our Second Reading, from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, Paul actually uses the term “stewardship” to describe the particular mission that has been entrusted to Him by God. That is why, he explains, that all the sufferings he endures as part of his ministry are a joy for Him — because they come as a part of the privilege of serving the Lord. This is equally true for each one of us today. We are all called to be the Lord’s faithful stewards, spreading the Good News of the Gospel in our particular sphere of influence. And while serving the Lord (through formal ministry or just in the daily duties of everyday life) involves some suffering, like Paul, we should count this as part of the privilege of being called His stewards.
Finally, in today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke, we receive a reminder about the proper use of the gift of time, a fundamental aspect of a stewardship way of life. Our passage highlights one of the most famous dinner parties ever thrown, recalling the day that Martha and Mary hosted our Lord in their home. We are told that Martha, as a good steward, welcomes Christ in but then becomes “burdened with much serving” while her sister and fellow hostess chooses to simply sit with Jesus, listening to Him speak.
Martha becomes indignant at Mary’s behavior and complains to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” But Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, refuses to get pulled in to this sisterly spat. Instead, He offers Martha a fresh way to look at the situation. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.”
What is that one thing? It is to put Jesus first in our lives and above all other things; to “sit at his feet” and listen as Mary did, giving Him the first priority of our time no matter how busy we think we are.
When we truly commit to putting Christ first in our daily lives through a regular time of prayer and frequent participation in the sacraments we will find that all our other concerns become less pressing, less overwhelming. Why is this so? Because the time we invest in our relationship with God saturates all aspects of our lives with His grace. And because God cannot be outdone in generosity. He will abundantly reward any sacrifice we make in order to spend time with Him.