Monday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm makes a promise to faithful stewards: “Those who are victorious I will feed from the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7, Psalm 1).
In Revelation 1:1-4 and 2:1-5 God highly praises the church in Ephesus. Who would not like to receive the words of approval God gives here?
But God is not satisfied with this congregation: “I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen.”
God is a lover. He wants us to love him back with a passion that matches his own. If our love for him cools, it is not enough that we continue to obey his laws, work untiringly for him and even “endure hardship” for his sake. What God gives to us, and what God wants from us, is passionate, personal love.
If we have ever known what it is to serve God as a person, to serve him with fervent love in response to what he is, we must not lose that focus. If we do lose it and begin to just “do our job,” because that is what is expected of us, Jesus says to us, “Repent”— seek a metanoia, a change of mind and outlook. “Do the works you did at first.” What fired and sustained your love then? Go back and rekindle the flame by doing what you did then. Do, and I will feed from the tree of life.” “If not,” he says, “I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place!”
These are tough words. But God doesn’t play around with love. He wants it. “To love God with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength… — this is much more important” to God than any external actions (Mark 12:33). Stewardship is not measured just by the amount of work we do for God. God wants the work of our hands to express the orientation of our heart. Stewardship is about managing love.
In Luke 18: 35-43 we find the way to begin. When the blind man cried out, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He would not help him until the man knew what he wanted and knew that he really wanted it. It is the same for us.
The blind man said, “Lord, I want to see.” Can we say that? Do we really want to see all that God promises and asks? Do we want the whole thing?
Jesus said to all of us through his apostles, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” If we want to be his friends, we want to know all we can about him. By “feeding from the tree of life.” 1
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Make use of the gifts that help you know him.
1 John 15:15.