Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and
prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the
(Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6)
Pondering the Word
When you hear the word “stewardship,” what comes to
mind? When you hear the sermon this weekend at church is about
stewardship, do you conveniently decide to go to another church or
just sleep in? Many associate the word with fundraising and monetary
support. But in the Bible, stewardship is used to describe a special
relationship. The steward is an honored servant entrusted by the
master to manage day-to-day affairs, finances, merchants, and other
So when Paul says he is a steward for God, we may be tempted to
think of it as a business role. And given Paul’s determined approach
to evangelizing, we may not be too far off. Paul is a man with a
But what Paul holds as gift is nothing short of God’s grace, a grace
available to all who are ready and willing to accept it; a grace
that Paul knows he is called to share with as many people as he can.
No longer is God’s grace only intended for one nation, one class of
people. Great and powerful is Paul’s knowledge of the mystery of
God’s all-welcoming grace and embrace, yet at the same time,
precious and exquisite.
We are all entrusted as stewards…of our planet, our bodies, each
other, and yes, our churches. But we are also honored to be stewards
of the graced knowledge of Emmanuel, the mystery of God with and for
all of us.
Living the Word…
In my church, the focus of our stewardship weekend is typically
about sharing our talents. Indeed, we are the keepers of the gifts
and talents God has given us, and we are to nurture and offer them
to others as evidence of the great gift of God’s grace.
What are your gifts? Take time to reflect on and pray about what God
sees as your gifts. Do you share them with others, either through
church or some other charitable channel? Many of us discount our
giftedness, thinking we don’t have much to offer. Perhaps your gift
is a ready smile, a willingness to help, your singing voice, a
talent with finances, your patience and compassion. See how many
times you can share your gifts this week. Just as with God’s grace,
the more you share your gifts, the more you will have!
“Come to me heedfully. Listen, that you may have life.”
Today’s lectionary for the Baptism of the Lord lists five options
for the first reading, but this little line from Isaiah resonates
with me, particularly as we enter into ordinary time. The seasons of
Advent, Christmastide, Lent, and Easter focus our attention and
invite us into deeper reflection, heeding the word of the Lord. But
as we pack up the crèche and ornaments for another year, our focus
tends to return to the more ordinary, yet still busy rhythms of
life. That’s why it’s especially important for us to consciously
enter the Lord’s presence and listen to his word. Take a brief
moment out of your day to listen to God. Let God grant you life in
“What is this? A new teaching with authority. He
commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame
spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. (Mk
“His fame spread everywhere.” Can you imagine what it
would be like today? There’d be viral videos all over YouTube,
Instagrams shared worldwide. You talk about fame! Surely we would
all be willing to follow this man Jesus wherever he leads us! Or
would we? Would we be any different from the people of his time,
excited and awestruck just as long as he is doing cool things like
driving out demons and curing illnesses, but ready to turn on our
heels the minute things get complicated? Do we find ourselves
touched by media stories of people involved in social justice work
with immigrants, for example, but afraid or skeptical about
venturing into that realm ourselves? Are we enamored of Jesus, but
hesitant when it gets harder to live our lives as he did?
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any
word of his to be without effect. Thus all Israel came to know that
Samuel was an accredited prophet of the LORD.
(1 Sm 3: 1-10, 19-20)
We are inundated with words from voices that prattle
on about inane subjects. My guess is the prophets of the Lord were
people of few words, and that the words they did utter came from
complete openness to God. We hear none of Samuel’s words were to be
without effect. So how come, then, the people ignored his warnings
and advice? Oh, the same reason we ignore the warnings of experts
on exercise, screen time, eating right, etc. The same reason we hear
Jesus’ words about giving up our idols and following him, caring for
the poor and hungry, welcoming the stranger, and then going out and
doing exactly what we want anyway. The words of the prophets and of
Jesus are powerful words, words that can affect change in us and in
our world, but only if we accept them with open ears and hearts.
Think today about Jesus’ words that are hard for you to accept. Pray
with those words and ask to be enlightened as to how you can
practice them today.
has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines?
Let us fetch the ark of the LORD from Shiloh that it may go into
battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies."
(1 Sm 4:1-11)
The Israelites are getting creamed by the Philistines and wonder why
God is not with them. “Oh silly us,” they say. “We forgot to bring
the Ark. Surely, God exists there (even though we’ve been totally
ignoring him in our lives)!” Yes, God is all-powerful. Jesus can
work miracles any time he wants. But the key to how that power,
those miracles impact my life has to do with my faith that they
can. The real sanctuary is in my heart.
Samuel delivered the message of the LORD to those who were asking
for a king: "He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots
and horses…He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and
olive groves, and give them to his officials; He will tithe your
crops and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves. When this
takes place, you will complain against the king whom you have
chosen, but on that day the LORD will not answer you."
(1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22a)
The moral: “Be careful what you ask for--you just might get it.”
Israel wants a human king to do for them all the things human kings
do for the neighboring nations: defend their property, prepare them
for war, lead them into battle…all that nice stuff. The analogy to
the nationalist movements we see happening around the world is
striking. We cannot ignore this message. Be careful what you ask
for, what you vote for, what it is you think you really want. It may
come with moral and monetary costs you may not be willing to bear.
anoints you commander over his heritage. You are to govern the
LORD's people Israel.”
(1 Sm 9:
1-4, 17-19) As he passed by, he saw Levi sitting at the customs
post. Jesus said to him, "Follow me." (Mk 2:13-17)
Saul is out searching for his father’s missing livestock. Matthew is
sitting at the customs post lining his pockets. God’s call may come
when we least expect it. Are you ready to follow?