The Responsorial Psalm calls us to be “stewards of the promise” by being “stewards of the memory” of God’s
people: “The Lord has done marvels for us” (Psalm 126). To recall this supplies motivation to hope.
Romans 8: 18-25 tells us that the only way to view the present is in light of the future. Like a woman in childbirth, “all creation is groaning in labor pains.” But if we look ahead we will consider “the sufferings of the present time as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Jesus said the same: “When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world” (John 16:21). It is looking forward that gets her through the birth pains.
In our day we have a special experience of this. The Church is in the throes of a renewal that in vigor, creativity and life-giving changes of structure and policy will surpass the great seventeenth-century “Catholic Counter Reformation.” We know this will happen because there is desperate need for it; and because it has happened before. “The Lord has done marvels for us.” He will do marvels again. He already is doing them.
In Luke 13: 18-21 Jesus tells us the action of God in the Church is like the growth of a plant: at any given moment it may not be visible, but over time it works astounding transformations. Like a “mustard seed” growing into a bush so large “the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches,” the Church we see now is in the process of becoming something beyond our imagination — that will make us say in awe, “The Lord has done marvels for us.”
In the meantime we have to activate and act by hope. We don’t limit our expectations to what we see. “For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance” (see the first reading).
This “waiting” is not passive. We must “be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet.” Jesus says, “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find at work when he arrives. (Luke 12: 36-37; Matthew 24:46). Our waiting is the active waiting of responsible stewardship: to wait is to work, to get things ready, to be on the job; not just to sit around. For this we need motivation. We find it in hope based on what God has done in the past. It is responsible stewardship to look back and remember, “The Lord has done marvels for us.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Look back and see the future.