October 6, 2019 — Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our readings today show us that living a stewardship way of life — a life focused on serving God and His Kingdom — is not easy. They also show us that our lives belong to God, not to us, and that God will indeed bring about the fulfillment of His kingdom. We just need to have faith that He can do it and commit to our small part in His grand design.
We can all relate to the frustration expressed in the First Reading from Habakuk. “How long, O Lord? I cry for help but you do not listen! Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” The Lord knows that the life of a steward is not easy. When we look around us it can seem as if all our efforts are in vain. We spend time praying but nothing happens. We are faithful to our ministry but no one seems to notice. We give generously of our financial resources but the needs around us remain great. In spite of all this, the Lord urges us to remain faithful. “For the vision [the fulfillment of His kingdom] still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint.”
Our Second Reading from St. Paul’s letter to Timothy offers encouragement on the difficult path of discipleship, reminding us that we have all the tools we need to remain faithful. Paul says to “stir into flame the gift of God that you have…” Through the sacraments, the Word of God, and the teachings of the Church, we have every possible grace and blessing needed to continue moving forward on the stewardship path. We simply need to return to them over and over so as to stir these gifts into flame. Paul instructs us to “guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” Relying on the abundant spiritual gifts God has given to us, and relying on the Holy Spirit’s strength, we can bear our share of hardship well for the sake of the Gospel. This is both our privilege and responsibility as Christian stewards.
Jesus makes this privilege and responsibility clear in today’s Gospel passage from Luke. When the apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith, He tells them that even a mustard seed-sized faith is all that is needed to move mountains (because it is God who does the heavy lifting). We need only take the tiniest step forward, and He will do the rest. It is a true privilege to cooperate as servants in the work of building His Kingdom.
Living our lives in His service is also very much our responsibility as Jesus explains through the parable of the unprofitable servant later in this passage. Our Lord describes a scene in which a servant has just come in from tending to the master’s affairs and asks whether it would be reasonable for the master to begin waiting on his servant. Of course, it would not be reasonable. The servant would be expected to continue to serve his master until he has completed the work the master has given him that day. Jesus says we should have this same attitude before God. The time, talents, and treasure entrusted to us are all God’s. Our very lives belong to God. Whatever we do on God’s behalf with our lives and our gifts is simply our God-given responsibility.
The stewardship way of life makes the privilege and responsibility of serving Christ and His kingdom a reality.