The Responsorial Psalm teaches us “stewardship of intellect”: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God”
(Psalm 19). As endowed with intelligence, we are expected to use our brains responsibly.
Romans 1: 16-25 describes an influential segment of the world’s population: the pseudo-intellectual milieu of those who claim there is no God — or at least that his existence cannot be known with certitude. For them “The heavens do not proclaim the glory of God.” They are blind.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.
Quite often these are people who in their own particular circle of knowledge are brilliant. They may be selected to guide the country’s economics, foreign policy, technological research or media productions. And they can excel in these fields as long as no wisdom — that is, perception of ultimate values — is required. They are able to see many values that do not require the acceptance of any ultimate truth or goodness. But the truth is that even in their myopia they often focus more conscientiously and clearly on short-term values than the “children of light” do. When it comes to questions of social justice, Christians (and Catholics, actually) generally lead the world; but they are frequently unable to lead other Christians! This is where stewardship fails in the Church.
God created us “in his own image, setting us over the whole world in all its wonder as the stewards of creation” (Sunday Preface V). We are charged to use all our gifts and talents to preserve God’s creation and renew society. But too often we stop short with superficial morality, “straining out the gnat but swallowing the camel!” (Matthew 23:24).
In Luke 11: 37-41 Jesus blames the Pharisees for this: “you clean the outside of the cup… but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” Many Catholics campaign against sins that are obvious, while closing their eyes to the underlying sins that are their cause; for example, pursuit of affluence at the expense of the poor; acceptance of sub-standard education and housing; killing covered over with legalism, such as the death penalty and support for unjust wars. When we fail to put the light of faith to work by looking deeper we are unfaithful stewards.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look deeper than the superficial sins.