See Where You Stand
Thirtieth Week of Year II Thursday October 27, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm focuses our confidence: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!” (Psalm 144).
In Ephesians 6: 10-20 Paul asks for prayer that he will be a faithful steward in his task as “ambassador” for the “mystery of the Gospel.”
In our work as stewards of the kingship of Christ, “our battle ultimately is not against human forces,” but “against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” The common and fundamental force resisting God’s reign is sin. The force we rely on is “the strength of God’s power.” Everything else is intermediate.
So if we want to be faithful stewards we need to use and manage well the resources God has given us: the “belt of truth… the breastplate of righteousness… the shield of faith… the helmet of [grace and the consciousness of] salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Above all, we need to “pray in the Spirit at all times…. and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”
Is this what we are most conscious of in our “strategic planning” as stewards of his kingship? Is it what we concentrate on first and foremost when we try to combat evil and do good in the world? And do we respond to discouragement with our rock-bottom ground of confidence: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!”
Luke 13: 31-35 reminds us that our confidence is in the ultimate triumph of Jesus, not in the intermediate (and possibly inconsequential) triumphs of human success. As stewards we are not even responsible for preserving our lives on this earth, any more than Jesus was. When warned of threats to his life he said, “On the third day my purpose is accomplished. Yet I proceed on course today, tomorrow, and the day after.” Then he would die in Jerusalem.
For those who would kill him he felt only compassion. It was their loss: “Your temple will be abandoned… You shall not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Our duty is just to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,”1 without regard for success or failure, persecution or praise, prosperity or impoverishment. As stewards we live and work for the reign of God — and for nothing else.
Stewardship is ultimate abandonment. In ministry we offer our bodies in union with Jesus on the cross in repeated acts of surrender. In stewardship we are simply given as Jesus in Communion. There is nothing left to surrender. We are bread served up for the banquet.