Readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113, R. Praise the Lord who lifts the poor.; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Gospel—Luke 16:1-13
In one of his August 2020 general audiences, Pope Francis spoke about how the pandemic revealed to us the paramount importance of solidarity and equality, emphasizing that we reflect God’s love for us by sharing the goods of the world, the blessings of creation.
This is stewardship. This is the central theme for our reflection this Sunday. (With apologies for veering away from the details of the parable.)
Five hundred years ago, St. Ignatius of Loyola gave us in his First Principle and Foundation (P&F), his idea of and road map to live out stewardship. He wrote (translated and adapted by Fr. David Fleming):
“The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit. All the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily. As a result, we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons. But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives, they displace God and so hinder our growth toward our goal.”
“In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance before all these created gifts insofar as we have a choice and are not bound by some obligation. We should not fix our desires on health or sickness, wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or a short one. For everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in God.”
The who and the why
Three points to reflect on. First, stewardship is understanding the who and why of our life. Second, stewardship is knowing the how of living our life. Third, stewardship is love for God and others.
In the first part of the P&F we see who we are, God creation, giving us life “without limit” out of love for us, and why we are here, “to live with God forever.”
This is our intrinsic identity and mission. We are God’s creation, which gives us the fundamental ground of solidarity, i.e., the solidarity with the whole of creation, with the human family at its center.
It defines our mission as living with God in eternity, a mission that includes the prudent use of all of God’s creation. And as Fr. Fleming put it, we achieve this by becoming a loving person towards God and others, and in all things.
This is the how of living our life, to live it in love and put this in the context of the other readings this Sunday, love for the poor and holiness.
As St. Paul put it (Ephesians 3: 17-19), “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
To live and proclaim
Our life, our stewardship, is to live and proclaim God’s love for all of humanity and creation.
For St. Ignatius, one key element of holiness—the other half of how to live life together with love—is to live it with a sense of a healthy and balanced sense of detachment: “… we appreciate and use all these gifts of God insofar as they help us develop as loving persons … In everyday life, we must hold ourselves in balance before all these created gifts …”
Stewardship as living a life of love is a life of loving and serving God and others.
It is loving and serving that builds the human family in solidarity and fraternity.
One of the early influences in my life as a priest is a line from the musical “Les Miserables”: “To love another person is to see the face of God and live.”
This is our stewardship. It is all about God and others. It is about loving and living. Stewardship is the fullness of life.