The Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Year A
The Stewardship of Grace
Questions to Ask Yourself
What does it mean to treat God as God? Does it just mean giving to God what we owe him? Or is it also
important to recognize what God is giving us, believe in what he wants to give us, and gratefully let him give it?
Ideas to Consider
The Entrance Antiphon celebrates God as the One we can call upon and who will answer: “I call upon you, God, for you will answer me.” It acknowledges how much God loves us, how precious we are to him: “Guard me as the pupil of your eye; hide me in the shade of your wings” (Psalm 16). In recognizing God’s love for us we are doing what the Responsorial Psalm calls for: “Give the Lord glory and honor” (Psalm 96).
In the Opening Prayer(s) we acknowledge God as “our source of power and inspiration.” Our “strength and joy” come from him. We ask him to “remove the blindness that cannot know you.” If we know God as he is, we will be freed from the “fear that would hide us from your sight.” We won’t avoid thinking about God; we will welcome his presence wherever we are.
All power is God’s
Isaiah 45: 1-6 emphasizes the fact that God chose Cyrus — a pagan who “knew me not” — and “anointed” him to bring about what God wanted. It was by God’s help — “opening doors and leaving gates unbarred” — that Cyrus was able to “subdue nations.” God used Cyrus “so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, there is no other.” God wasn’t leaving any doubt about the fact that it was only by God’s own will and power that Cyrus was able to do what he did. “Give the Lord glory and honor.”
But this doesn’t mean God is backing every use of human power. He chose Cyrus by exception. It is true that no one can do anything except by the power — reaching down to the gift of existence itself — that God gives. But God leaves people free to use well the power that is theirs, whether by nature or by human acquisition, or to abuse it. Whatever they do, however, they are fools if they think with blind pride that the power is coming from them or that they have a right to it. When Pilate said to Jesus, “Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus reminded him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). All power is
God’s. “Give the Lord glory and honor.”
All belongs to God
In Matthew 22: 15-21 the Pharisees try to make Jesus say whether or not God was on the side of the Roman army occupying Israel. “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not.” Jesus refuses to get into that question. Instead he tells them,” Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” It only takes a moment’s thought to realize that if we give to God what belongs to him, there is nothing left over. Everything we have comes from God; we owe God everything we have and are. As Christians we have “sold everything” for the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field (see Matthew 13: 44-46). We have turned over everything to God: all we own, all we are, all our gifts and talents, all the energy we have to use them, our whole lives. And God in return has put everything back into our hands to manage for him as his stewards. How much of what belongs to God we hand over to Caesar for government usage, how much we set aside for our family, or allocate to work being done through the Church or through other organizations — all of these managerial decisions are exercises of our stewardship. But everything we allocate — including the use of our time and talents — belongs to God already, and we allocate it according to what we judge to be his desire.
All of this we do out of love, not fear. Conscious of God’s overwhelming love and generosity to us, we are glad to use everything we have for his service and glory. “Give the Lord glory and honor.”
Our power is from God
What enables us to exercise this faithful stewardship? The joint letter of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1: 1-5) gives “thanks to God” for their “work of faith and labor of love.” The fruits of the apostles’ preaching were due to the fact that the Thessalonians were “chosen” to receive the life of grace — as are we all. “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.” The same Holy Spirit whose power worked within the apostles’ preaching also worked, and continued to work, in those who heard and accepted it. All was the work of God. We see ourselves and others responding to the Gospel, serving God with generosity and faithfulness, and we thank God for his mercy and love. God is “our source of power and inspiration”; our “strength and joy” come from him. “Give the Lord glory and honor.”
We are not afraid to give all we have to God and dedicate it to his service, because God is more faithful to us than we can ever be to him. “I call upon you, God, for you will answer me.” We know that if we abandon ourselves to God he will “guard us as the pupil of his eye; hide us in the shade of his wings.” Because of this we serve him without fear.
Do I believe I am absolutely safe if I entrust myself and all I have to God?
Just as an exercise, not as a binding decision, make a list of what you are managing for God — time, treasure and talents— and decide how to invest each.