The Spirit of Stewardship
Reflections and Actions for the 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Year B
Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
As we did last week, Immersed in Christ is here posting a weekly Gospel Reflection by Father David Knight. At the end of each Reflection, you will find daily prayer-reflections and suggested actions to consider in light of your Baptismal Promises as Christian, Disciple, Prophet, Priest, and King.
Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in communion is probably the fastest and easiest way to grow in wisdom - that is, in appreciation for God and the things of God. At the Communion Service of the Mass, we can hear the prophet calling, "[Wisdom] has also set her table. / '...Come, eat of my bread, / and drink of the wine I have mixed. I Lay aside immaturity, and live, / and walk in the way of insight."' Jesus said it even more emphatically and in explicit detail: "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood...abide in me and I in them"; "have eternal life"; and Jesus "will raise them on the last day." To know the meaning of these words is understanding. To appreciate them is wisdom. Why is it that some people seem drawn to deeper union with God while others do not? Why do some people just have a taste for prayer, for learning about God, for deepening their understanding of Scripture, for using the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for taking part in the Eucharistic celebration, for making retreats, for sharing in the redemptive mission of Christ through ministry and explicitly apostolic acts? Why does religion seem to take first place with some people and not with others? Too easy is the answer Karl Marx gave: "Religion is the opium of the people." It is true that many people come to God out of need, seeking relief from emotional distress, asking to be delivered from pain, fear or loneliness. It is even more true that those who do not recognize their need to find ultimate relief from these things in God are living in deluded superficiality. "Blessed are the poor in spirit (those who recognize their own inadequacy), for theirs is the kingdom of God." Woe to those who feel they have it made; they are not open to God. The question remains, however: Why is it that some people appreciate the value of deeper relationship with God as the way to the fullness of life, while for others-believing, practicing, churchgoing Christians-religion is important but not primary; a part of their life but not their very life? To state the question theologically, why do some people seem to have the gift of wisdom while others do not? No single, simple answer is adequate, of course, but we have our Lord's words: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Communion is a way to "taste and see that the LORD is good." The more we experience union with God in the Eucharist, the more we desire to grow into deeper union with God, and the more religion becomes for us our life, which is the only valid way to understand or practice it. Appreciation for life is the key to appreciation of religion. If we are willing to settle for less, religion will not be important to us. We can observe all the rules and practices of our religion in a minimal way, even doing a little more than what is explicitly required, and never experience that life to the full Jesus came to give. But if we desire to know truth in its fullness, to know Jesus intimately, to enter into relationship with others on the deepest level of each one's core response to God, to experience love in which we lose and find ourselves in total surrender and possession, to probe the length and breadth and height and depth of our own being, our capacity to know, to love and to live-and if we want life that gets better and better forever: graced life, eternal life, divine life-then we can appreciate the religion which the first Christians called simply "this new way," the way to live life to the full. It is only from this perspective of appreciating life in its fullness that we can take responsibility, as stewards of the kingship of Christ, for the life and the world entrusted to us.
Pray daily: Lord, to us, your Church, you have entrusted the treasure of your Body and Blood. Fill me with desire to make this gift available to the whole world.
Reflecting on This Week's Gospels
Monday: Matthew 19:16-22. The young man said to Jesus, "I have kept all these [commandments]; what do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." What desire do you feel to grow in intimacy with God? Is just keeping the commandments enough to satisfy you? Why?
Tuesday: Matthew 19:23-30. "[l]t is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." How do your own riches (material or other) affect your desire for God?
Wednesday: Matthew 20:1-16. "[T]he kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard." What relationship with Christ does receiving Communion express? Have you taken responsibility for his vineyard?
Thursday: Matthew 22:1-14. "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son." In how many different ways is Communion like a wedding feast? How often are you invited? What is your response?
Friday: Matthew 22:34-40. "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment." Which is the greatest of all the sacraments? Why?
Saturday: Matthew 23:1-12: "The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." What relationship with others does receiving Communion express? Why?
Living This Week's Gospels
As Christian: Prepare for Communion by thinking about Christ's words, "Those who eat my flesh will live forever."
As Disciple: Examine the Communion Service of the Mass to see what theme-word occurs most frequently.
As Prophet: At Communion examine how you, as Christ's Body, can use your sight, hearing, speech, taste, touch as Jesus used his.
As Priest: Consecrate yourself at Communion to speak and act in a way that will promote peace and unity between all the people you deal with.
As King: Examine the possibility of bringing Communion to someone sick or homebound.