HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
TOPIC: GOOD STEWARDSHIP
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mt 25:14-30
Message # 510: “Open Your Hearts to Hope” (start at letter g).
1. The Marian Message
a) The world is in a lot of uncertainty. Lots of apprehension, fears and doubts abound in the minds and hearts of people. Many have begun to lose hope and have become cynical and hopeless about the future.
b) The Blessed Mother calls on all her children to “open your hearts in hope”. God is always with us: Emmanuel. He is guiding the course of world events. He will never allow evil to triumph. In this regard, He sent His Son Jesus as our Savior, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the cross, Jesus gave to us His own Mother to be our Mother too. It is the task of Mary to “open the door of the new era…of leading you towards the new heavens and the new earth … of conquering Satan and every evil force, in order that God may achieve his greatest triumph in the world” (letter i).
c) The events that are happening all over the world are telling us that human powers are futile. They cannot prevent economic collapse, they cannot put an end to wars, and they cannot bring true and lasting peace and stability in the world. Mighty business empires are falling down, huge banks are closing down, and hundreds of billions and even trillions are going down the drain. Money is nothing. Human power is nothing. What the world needs now more than ever is trust and hope in God: “Do not lose courage, beloved children. Let your trust be strong” (letter r). Let us intensify our devotion to the Blessed Mother: “I am the dawn that precedes the great day of the Lord. I am the voice which becomes strong in these times,” prophetically announcing the coming of the Lord in glory.
d) The global economic crisis has something to do with bad stewardship. The damage is done. We cannot continue pointing accusing fingers at anybody. The fact is that all of us have our share in this bad stewardship. We have let our greed and selfishness control us, and we are now reaping their deadly fruits.
2. Background Information
a) Ownership: God created the whole universe. He owns everything absolutely. (Ps 24:1 – “The earth is the Lord’s and all it holds, the world and those who live there.” 1Chronicles 29:11-12 – “Yours, O Lord, are grandeur and power, majesty, splendor and glory. For all in heaven and on earth is yours; yours, O Lord, is the sovereignty; you are exalted as head over all.”) Everything comes from Him. Whatever we have now are just on loan from God. We never own anything. We may have documents of ownership of our properties. But these are only for legal purposes. At any time, we will leave everything, and somebody else will possess them. As a saying goes, “In death, there are no rich men; only rich relatives.”
b) Stewardship: We are only stewards of God’s creation. A steward or manager handles the properties according to the wishes of the owner. There are important qualities that a good steward must have:
1) Trustworthiness: the owner will not entrust his property to a devious employee. The choice of a person as steward is based foremost on trust. It is a position of trust.
2) He must be capable. He is expected to do his job well. The owner hires a person who has the capacity to fulfill the duties and obligations of the office.
3) He must be creative and enterprising. There are persons who are capable, but not enterprising. They do not do anything to make the owner’s investments grow and flourish.
4) He must be responsible. He makes decisions of his own according to the owner’s wishes, but he is responsible for all these actions and decisions.
5) He must be loyal to the owner. Whatever happens, he must always remember that he is just the steward, not the owner; he is just the employee of the owner.
6) Hence, his humility is necessary. Loyalty will depend much on humility. Realizing that he is not the owner, the steward remains a humble servant. Bishop Benedict Joseph Fenwick of Boston (+1846) gives this admonition: “Never intrude yourself into an office to which you have not been called, and never refuse any one that is given to you.”
7) He is always accountable to the owner. He is expected to render an honest account of his stewardship, not grudgingly, but gratefully and gladly.
c) Sonship: But we are not like any ordinary steward, for we are God’s children. As such, we are also inheritors of God’s kingdom. Whatever God has, we also possess as His children (cf. the Parable of the Prodigal Son). Though oftentimes we know how unworthy we are, God entrusts to us so many blessings, not because we deserve them, but because we are His beloved children. That is why St. John exclaims in wonder and joy: “See what love the Father has bestowed upon us that we may be called children of God. Yet so we are” (1Jn 3:1). With this supremely sublime dignity given unto us through the sacrament of Baptism, we should not only feel eternally grateful to God, but we should also see our life in a totally different perspective. We are not simple stewards and servants of God. We are His beloved children, entrusted with so many blessings beyond our imagining, and so we are expected to appreciate and nurture these blessings with utmost care, devotion and love as our way of expressing our endless praise and gratitude to God. St. Irenaeus said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” This means that the best way to glorify and thank God is to develop our life to its fullest potentials, by using our God-given gifts and talents, time, resources and blessings the best way we can, for the glory of God and for the salvation of souls. That is the motto of St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” (for the greater glory of God). In this case, we become true servants and stewards of God’s creation and more especially, true children of God.
3. Reflections on the Sunday Readings
a) The first reading extols the virtues of a worthy wife. “Her value is beyond pearls.” She loves her husband and family with such gratuitous, self- sacrificing love. She is hardworking and charitable to others. And she has fear of the Lord. These qualities are requisites in being good stewards of the Lord.
b) The second reading is St. Paul’s exhortation and warning to all Christians. As “children of the light and children of the day” we must not remain in darkness and should always “stay sober and alert.” Indeed, the best way of vigilance and preparation is to be like servants waiting for their master’s return from a wedding. They are awake and always doing their job. That is the proper way to be good stewards of the Lord.
c) The Gospel is the Parable of the Talents. It is a lesson, not only on proper stewardship, but also a beautiful picture of the relationship between God and man. The master going on a journey is the image of Jesus, the Lord, who temporarily leaves this world to go back to His heavenly Father. But he will return again at any time and demand an accounting from his servants. The servants are the people to whom God entrusted many blessings, each to his own capacity. God is so generous with His blessings; everybody receives abundant blessings from Him, despite their unworthiness. The distribution is not equal, but equitable. God respects the individual capacities and abilities. But more is expected of the one to whom more is given.
d) The master praised the two servants and called them “good and faithful”. Why? It is because when entrusted with a vast amount of money, they did not run off or spend the money on themselves. Rather, they invested wisely and assiduously what was given them as their way of revering their relationship with their master. The master was pleased with them, not only because they doubled his money, but more so because they showed their loyalty, enterprise and honesty to him, and this deepened their relationship: “Come, share my joy!”
e) On the other hand, the master was furious at the third servant who “dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.” He did this because, according to him, he was afraid of his master. But according to his master, he was lazy. Whatever the reason is, digging a hole and burying the money is something quite negative. Not only did he disobey his master’s wish, but he also prevented the money from fulfilling its purpose. Money is to be used and spent in order to benefit others; it is not meant to be buried. It was, therefore, an act of selfishness. If it was true that he was afraid of his master, and so he buried the money in the ground, it is clear that he was only thinking of himself, and he did not consider the others who may have benefited from this money. All these tell what kind of a steward he is: not trustworthy. It also reveals his relationship with his master: a relationship not based on love but fear. And St. John the Apostle said: “There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love” (1Jn 5:18). God calls us to a relationship of love, for He is our loving Father, and we are his beloved children.
f) The attitude of the third servant has also something to do with the feeling of being small and insignificant. He was the one given the least sum of money. He must have thought that the amount that he has is insignificant compared with those received by the other two. He thought that what he will do with it will not matter to anybody, not even to his master. But he was wrong. He was not trustworthy in a small amount; so he cannot be trusted with bigger amount. And in the eyes of the master (God), every person is valuable, every blessing is important, every vote counts.
g) In summary, the parable teaches us that God is our generous master who, despite our unworthiness, entrusts to all of us His bountiful gifts, not to be hoarded or for our selfish use but to be invested wisely by using them properly to benefit the others. In so doing, we help in multiplying these gifts and in giving due honor and glory to God. (That is the paradox of God’s gifts: the more we give and share them with others, the more they grow and multiply.) That is the way to be “good and faithful” stewards of God.
This parable is an opportunity for us, first, to count our blessings, and second, to examine ourselves how we handle and use the blessings entrusted to us by God. What happened to the third servant must serve as a strong warning to us. Regarding God’s blessings, we must avoid the following: selfishness, greed, envy, laziness, pride, arrogance and taking advantage of others who have less in life.
- 4. Closing
Let us be sorry for all our sins of selfishness and greed. And with grateful hearts, let us acknowledge God’s many and varied gifts to us by singing the song “Thank You, Lord!”
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Lahat tayo ay binigyan ng Diyos ng maraming biyaya. Ano ang nararamdaman tuwing nakikita mo ang ibang mga tao na ubod ng yaman, habang tayo ay madalas na kinakapos sa buhay?
2. Tayo ay mga katiwala lamang ng Diyos sa mga biyayang bigay Niya. Paano natin ginagampanan ang pagiging mabuting katiwala?
3. Ang Banal na Misa ay Eukaristiya, na ang ibig sabihin ay “pasasalamat”. Ano ang malimit ninyong intensiyon tuwing magsisimba sa Misa?