19th Sunday of the Year C (08 Aug 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Each Easter Vigil we prepare the paschal candle, symbol of Messiah Jesus, who has come and who will come again. Recall what priests say when they trace the inscription on the paschal candle: Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the ending, Alpha and Omega; all time belongs to him, and all ages; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Jesus entered human history, God-with-us. When we speak of time, we don’t mean some mystical measure or a calendar for convenience. We mean past, present and future and all created things. Jesus is Lord of history and all within it.
The visible paschal candle assure us of Messiah Jesus’ invisible presence accompanying us throughout our lives. Messiah Jesus’ presence also shapes us to expect his return. At mass we acknowledge we expect Jesus’ return in glory with our Amen closing the priest’s words after the Lord’s Prayer: as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Second Vatican Council reminded us that the expectation of blessed hope and of the coming of the Lord is part of the mystery of Messiah Jesus as is his incarnation and birth [his life] until the ascension [and] the day of Pentecost.1 While those aspects of the Christian mystery may be read on the pages of sacred scripture, you and I write on the sacred pages of life by being alert and ready to act on every opportunity to do our master’s work. To that the gospel clearly points. It does not spell out what being alert and ready to act look like in detail.
We don’t have a recipe for action, we have Jesus, the greatest gift. To know him is God’s gift. To be in relationship with him is God’s gift. To continue his work of care and reconciliation and to witness to our experience of both by how we live is possible because of the gift of Jesus’ self, the eucharist, which we share at mass. As we respond to Jesus and his self-gift, our response to him turns outward to others. Extending our selves and our resources to others deepens our relationships with Jesus, our master, until he returns.
The ancient Mediterranean household lent its roles to Jesus’ parable. The steward was the one “to whom the head of the house...entrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age.”2
Along with keeping track of accounts and supplies, stewards knew the members of their households. Mediterranean house-holds outnumbered our largest extended families, by the way, so a steward’s knowledge was personal and not only a knack for numbers. Again relationship figured prominently in a faithful and prudent steward. It’s no wonder that early in the church’s history, the Greek word for steward came to mean a preacher of the gospel.3
Jesus’ parable describes how Christians live: we preach the gospel with a personal touch, to use a familiar phrase. Because we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ we deepen our own relationships with Jesus; we share our gifts with others, especially those vulnerable and in need; and we help people meet Jesus. Money, power and influence aid preaching the gospel with a personal touch, none is end in itself. Even stewardship of our homes, schools, parish and community confirm that.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, begin by noticing how the Trinity blesses you. Ask St. Peter to present you to Jesus. Praise Jesus for being your companion, who creates and redeems you; ask him to confirm your faith in his presence as well as in his return to complete what Jesus has begun in you. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, your kingdom come, on our lips point to a future which is becoming present because Jesus chooses us to make him known by preaching his gospel with a personal touch.
- That Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 102.
- Entry for economos [Greek, οικονομος] in Thayer’s Lexicon, online version.
- Strong’s Lexicon at 3623, online version.