Eat To Assimilate. Read To Act
Thirty-Third Week of Year II Friday, November 18, 2016
The Responsorial (Psalm 119) calls us to reflect on God’s promises: “How sweet to my taste is your promise!”
In Revelation 10: 8-11 the scroll John is told to eat is “sweet as honey” in his mouth, but turns sour in his stomach. God’s word can be this way. If we just nibble on it, reading superficially, we can find Scripture an easy read: “How sweet to my taste is your promise!” But the test comes when we try to assimilate it into our lives. Then we might find we “don’t have the stomach for it.” If we apply God’s word to life, especially our own lives, we might find some of it too challenging. Something in us may want to reject it. Good!
This is good because when we start fighting God’s word we know we are taking it seriously. We are reading it, not just to feel good or see what it says about others, or what they should do, but to call our own attitudes, values and actions into question. Then the Spirit can say to us, “You must prophesy….”
To live out our baptismal consecration as prophets is to bear witness. And Paul VI says witness is primarily lifestyle: to live in a way that raises eyebrows. In a way that raises questions in people’s minds that can only be answered through the Gospel.
If we are not “prophets,” or witnesses in this way, we can hardly be effective as stewards of Christ’s kingship. Stewards take responsibility for changing things, for exercising leadership. But we cannot expect anyone to follow our suggestions if we don’t first lead by example. It is said, “In the eyes of God our words have only the value of our actions.” That is true in the eyes of people too. So to be faithful stewards we have to assimilate the words of God: digest them by using our intellects to understand what they mean and how they are relevant to our family and social lives, our work, church and political involvement, to our lifestyle.
In Luke 19: 45-48 Jesus is exercising leadership. He is acting both as King and steward of his Father’s kingship. He sees something wrong, something not according to the Father’s will, and he acts; he does something about it. He “entered the temple” and, seeing what was going on, “began ejecting the traders.” As Son he knew his Father’s will and defended his interests.
Jesus didn’t actually change the custom of buying and selling in the temple. The traders were back the next day. He didn’t try to impose what was right by power and force. But his action made a point; it started a reflection going, pointed a direction for people to follow. This is leadership.
Leaders may not have the authority to require changes (and authorities may not have the leadership qualities to win people to make them). For “faithful stewardship” it is enough to try.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward: build for the future in heaven and on earth.