January 22, 2023 — Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
IS 8:23-9:3; PS 27:1,4, 13-14; 1 COR 1:10-13, 17; MT 4:12-23 OR 4:12-17
Today’s readings remind us that stewardship is not just a thing we do — rather, stewardship is at the core of who we are as disciples of Christ.
Our first reading, from Isaiah, contains this prophecy of Christ and what His saving message would mean to all who embrace it. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” We are among those blessed people on whom the light of Christ has shone. By virtue of our Baptism, we, who were once in the darkness and gloom of original sin, have been born again into the great light that is God’s grace in us. We have become cherished members of God’s family.
What a privilege!
Yet, with this privilege comes the responsibility to actually live for God and to bring His Good News to all those we meet at work, at school, in our community and right in our own home.
In our second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul urges us to keep the responsibility of sharing the Gospel our foremost priority. In this passage he addresses the divisions and rivalries that have cropped up in the Christian community in Corinth. He urges the Christians there to “be united in the same mind and the same purpose,” reminding them that it was Christ and only Christ Who was crucified for us. We owe everything to Him. Our lives are therefore not about us, our egos, our personal ambitions and loyalties. Those things cannot satisfy us, anyway. Our loyalty must be to Christ above all else and our priority must be to bring His light to everyone He puts in our path.
And there is a certain urgency that comes with the call to a stewardship way of life. We see this in our Gospel passage from Matthew, where we find Jesus on the move. He has left Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum, fulfilling what was said of Him through the prophet Isaiah, as we recall from today’s first reading. “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” In other words, turn away from selfishness, turn towards God and live as His disciple now — don’t wait!
Later in this same passage, the very first disciples give us examples of a good steward’s prompt “yes” when the Lord called to them. Our Lord sees Simon and his brother, Andrew, living an ordinary day as fishermen when He said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” The two did not hesitate. They didn’t think about themselves or how this might disrupt their business. Rather, “at once they left their nets and followed him.” Then, Jesus called two more brothers, James and John. They, too, were living an ordinary day as fishermen, working alongside their father mending nets in their boat. Jesus called them and “immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.” They did not worry about their personal lives and how their father might react. They put our Lord and His will first and responded without hesitation.
This is the essence of a stewardship way of life — to be always ready for the ways that our Lord is calling us to bring His light to others. It’s more than something we do — it’s who we are.