Stewards or Slaves
Thirty-first Week of Year II Saturday November 5, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm promises the fullness of joy to those who abandon all for God: “Happy are those who fear the Lord” (Psalm 112).
In Philippians 4: 10-19 Paul reveals two things: 1. he has abandoned all he has and is to the service of God as a faithful steward. 2. all he wants for his converts is that they should do the same.
They have sent a donation to provide for his needs. Paul basically answers that he has no needs; at least none he is concerned about. He has abandoned everything to God and trusts in God for everything:
I know what it is to have little, and what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret … of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
For Paul, the best thing about the Philippians’ help to him is that it shows they too have come to see themselves as stewards of all they possess. In helping him they have invested wisely what they are managing for God. And they will receive the reward of faithful stewardship: “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account.” “Happy are those who fear the Lord.”
Luke 16: 9-15 could serve as a ”summary of stewardship.” When Jesus says, “make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes,” he establishes the fact — even if by way of irony — that all we have on this earth is entrusted to us to be used for God’s service here so as to provide us with an “eternal home” hereafter.
Secondly, Jesus emphasizes trustworthiness. Stewards are given discretionary authority. Owners put trust in them to manage their property for the owner’s benefit. If a steward is unfaithful or irresponsible the owner will lose money — or whatever the owner was expecting to gain from the investment.
What God has entrusted to us as his stewards is everything in creation, from our own bodies to the farthest star. And he has entrusted us with the “true riches” of his truth, his love, the favor (grace) of his own divine life shared with us.
And he tells us that we “cannot serve two masters.” Stewardship is total abandonment of all to God, to seek only his interests in all we do and with all we have. Paradoxically, if we don’t serve God with our “wealth” we wind up serving it, instead of it serving us. Our only real choice, ultimately, is to be stewards or slaves. “Happy are those who fear the Lord.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Give him everything and serve him with it.