The Responsorial Psalm attributes all ministry ultimately to God: “The Lord has revealed to the nations his
saving power” (Psalm 98).
In Romans 15: 14-21 Paul says he does “not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Paul is doing what Peter said all Christians should do: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1Peter 4:10). God gives us the grace and the gifts we use in ministry; we simply manage them “like good stewards” to serve one another. It is Christ in us who accomplishes any good that we do.
Paul recognizes the same presence of Christ in those to whom he is writing. They too are “stewards” making use of the gifts they have been given: “I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.” Even though he himself was a leading Apostle of the Church Paul doesn’t embrace the attitude of “clericalism” that “views the clergy… as the source of all power and initiative,” while the laity “play a passive role and seem to have a lower position in the Church” (Cardinal Dulles, quoted earlier). Paul writes as a steward to stewards of the “manifold grace of God,” that all are charged to “use whatever gift each has received” to “serve one another.” When in the Church all allow God to act through all “by word and deed” and “by the power of the Spirit of God,” the Lord “reveals to the nations his saving power.”
Luke 16: 1-8 reminds us that stewards, by definition, are accountable. Jesus commends the dishonest steward for looking ahead and using what he had control over in the present to provide for his future. How can we do that?
Jesus will suggest (in tomorrow’s Gospel) that we do it by using whatever money God has entrusted to us to build a house for ourselves in heaven. But another way, largely ignored in the Church though encouraged by Catholic thought, is to be accountable to one another, here and now, as a way to prepare for the final accounting with God. Bishops and clergy need to be accountable to the laity; husbands and wives, friends and business associates need to be accountable to one another precisely for the Christian (or if the others are not Christian, for the moral and ethical) use of their resources. Through our responsible self-revelation to one another we will find that “The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.”
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward: be accountable as a “steward to stewards” for your use of grace.