November 17, 2019 — Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
As we approach the end of the liturgical year, our readings offer a sobering reminder that this life is not our ultimate aim, and that God’s justice will triumph in the end. Now is the time to get our priorities in order, putting God first above all else as His faithful stewards.
This theme of right priorities is rolled out in no uncertain terms from the first verse of our first reading from Malachi. “Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble and the day that is coming will set them on fire.”
But, there is good news for those who are faithful. “For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” All the trials, any sufferings or injustices we endure for the sake of the Gospel, will be healed, and we will be rewarded in the end by our loving God who cannot be outdone in generosity.
Our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians reinforces the message that we must order our lives so that they are directed to the attainment of holiness and nothing else. We see in this passage that conducting ourselves as good stewards involves not only action in certain areas (intentional prioritizing of our time, talents, and treasure); it also means refraining from certain actions and areas that are really none of our concern.
St. Paul puts it this way: “some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.” It can be tempting in family life, work life and parish life, especially for those go-getters among us, to want to insert ourselves into others’ way of doing things. But a good steward must have the humility to recognize that God has given gifts to everyone, and the way others use their gifts is between them and God. Besides, with a strong stewardship plan of life, we should have plenty to focus on without worrying about how those around us are operating.
Finally, our Lord brings home the urgency of right priorities in our Gospel passage from Luke, reminding the people around Him who were looking at the temple nearby, “All that you see here — the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Everything in this world is fleeting, our Lord reminds us. We must keep our focus on eternity.
Yet, before the eternal bliss of heaven, we should expect to be tried and tested. “Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.” Sounds scary. But if you are living a stewardship way of life, there is nothing to fear. You have a plan in place. All you need to do is stick with it. Put our Lord first in your time, with your talents, and through your use of treasure. This way of life is not meant to be easy. But Jesus promises it will lead to eternal salvation and the joy of union with Him. “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”
Onward Christian stewards, the struggle is worth the joy that awaits!