May 7, 2023 — Fifth Sunday of Easter
ACTS 6:1-7; PS 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19; 1 PT 2:4-9; JN 14:1-12
The readings on this fifth Sunday of Easter present us with themes of dwelling places and home. As Christian stewards, we are well aware that this world is not our permanent home. We are merely pilgrims here, making our way through the stewardship way of life to our true home, heaven.
Yet, as we make our way to heaven, we are called to make our dwelling here — whether we are in a household of one or bursting at the seams — a true “domestic church.” In other words, the stewardship way of life begins long before we set foot on the parish grounds. Stewardship starts at home.
We actually see this concept at play from the earliest days of the Church, as illustrated in our first reading from Acts. In the first verse, we read about how the members of the early church complained: “because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” When there is turmoil in the home when needs are not being met (in this passage, a very basic need for adequate food and drink), or when we lack an attitude of service within our homes and towards each other in our community, we are not the stewards that Christ is calling us to be.
Stewardship is not just about going to Mass once a week, serving in ministries, and giving financially to the parish. Those are all essential parts of stewardship. But stewardship begins long before we step onto our parish campus. It begins with our families, our domestic churches. The domestic church plays a key role in our sanctification because it is the primary place where we practice intimate and selfless love of other persons.
Ultimately, stewardship is not something that we do — it is who we are. It’s a way of living out our baptismal call to follow Christ as His disciples — whether in parish life, in our social life, in our work life — and certainly in our home life.
In our second reading, St. Peter instructs, “Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Peter is not speaking strictly to clergy members, but to all of us who are disciples of Christ by virtue of our Baptism. How are lay people to do this?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “It is here that… all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way ‘by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.’ Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and a ‘school of human enrichment’” (1657).
In our Gospel passage from John, Jesus speaks of heaven as a home filled with dwelling places. “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” This is a beautiful image of the glory that awaits us and the personal love our Lord has for us in preparing the perfect “spot” for each one of us who remain faithful to Him.
Let us respond to this great love by becoming good stewards of our earthly dwellings, making our homes true “domestic churches” where we honor God with our prayer, our thoughtfulness to each other, and our generous hospitality to all. Let us never forget that stewardship starts at home!