Posts Tagged 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Our God is not only an almighty (cf. Jer 27:5; 32:17; Lk 1:37; Wis 11:21; cf. Est 4:17b; Prov 21:1; Tob 13:2), merciful, gracious (Ex 34:5-6; cf. 34:9), truthful (Ps 119:160; 2 Sam 7:28; cf. Dt 7:9) and loving (cf. Dt 4:37; 7:8; 10:15; cf. Is 43:1-7; Hos 2; Jn 3:16; cf. Hos 11:1; Is 49:14-15; 62:4-5; Ez 16; Hos 11; Is 54:8,10; Jer 31:3) Father (2 Cor. 6:18); cf. Mt 6:32). He is also a God of freedom (” (Deut 30:19-20; Mt 6:19 ).
Though God wills that all men may be saved and come to the fullness of truth (1 Tim 2:3-4), that is, Jesus Christ who is “the way, the truth and the life” (see Jn 16:1; 14:6), He always respect our freedom of choice. That is why we, as His people, are always given a choice to make: life or death, heaven or hell, peace or violence, sinfulness or righteousness and prosperity or misery. Our future, then, depends entirely on the quality and quantity of choices we make today. If we choose death, then death would be ours. If we choose heaven, then heaven would be ours. If we choose happiness, then hapiness would be ours. You are always given a choice but be responsible with that choice. What you are, who you are now and in the future are products of your own choices.
In the Book of Deuteronomy, God confronts His people with decisive moral choices: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut 30:19-20).
In today’s gospel narrative Jesus also confront his disciples to make a choice. Are you laying up for yourselves corruptible treasures or incorruptible treasures? Whatever option they shall make, Jesus warns them to avoid being preoccupied in acquiring, possessing and hoarding anything that moth can destroy , rust can eat away, thieves can break in and steal. Instead, he admonishes them to store up heavenly treasure which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal (see Mt 6:19).
It is better to understand the text as referring to treasures that are already experienced in this life but continue to be valuable for eternity. “These are things whose fruit one enjoys in this world, while capital is laid up for one in the world to come: honoring father and mother, deeds of loving kindness, making peace between a man and his fellow; and the study of the law leads to them all” (cf. Sir 20:30, 41:14; see JBC 42:43).
Who stores for himself a treasure in heaven while on earth? He, who does not just perform good acts but gives the best of himself. He, who pursues good and chooses it in concrete action. He who freely practices the good. He who practices virtues…like prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope and love. He, who lives virtuous life, becomes like God (see St. Gregory of Nyssa, De beatitudinis, 1: PG 44, 1200D). This is the reason why “people, in seeing our good works, give glory to God our Father who is in heaven (see Mt 5:16). Hence, “fill your minds with whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious. Do everything that deserves praise and admiration” (Ph 4:8).
Jesus, then, exhort his disciples to possess a good eye and a good heart. Or singleness of purpose, purity of heart (Mt 5:8), undivided loyalty. What, then, is our goal that deserves our singleness of purpose and purity of heart? To whom shall we pledge our undivided loyalty? The longing and desire for heaven or the single indestructible longing for God, for an eternity spent in intimate, blessed communion with him is the deepest desire of human heart. Heaven is “the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (CCC 1024). These deserve our singleness of purpose, purity of heart and undivided loyalty!
God has granted us an amazing freedom to determine our eternal (and earthly) destiny by our choices and actions. To use the beautiful expressions of St Paul: “A man will reap only what he sows” (Gal 6:7). “He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). The option will always be ours. But we are forever responsible of the choices we make. As the Pepsi advertisement aptly says: “You are the product of your own choices.”
My dear friends in today’s gospel the Lord is giving us a choice. Are you laying up for yourselves corruptible treasures or incorruptible treasures? Make a choice for a lifetime. Store up heavenly treasure which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal (see Mt 6:19).
In the preceding parable, Jesus warned us against unreadiness and extolled the value of wathcfulness, vigilance and readiness. While, in the proceeding parable he dramatically shifted to another metaphor in which he compares his Second Coming to the unexpected arrival of a thief. He said to his disciples, “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Lk 12:14). The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour, like a thief at night. And he will come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead.
In that Day of Judgment at the Parousia or when the call of death arrives, “each one of us shall give account of himself or herself to God” (Romans 14:12) as a steward of the gifts of nature and the blessings and graces of God. What is a steward? A steward in ancient culture was a slave who was left in charge of domestic affairs when the master was away (16:1; 1 Cor 4:4-5; Michel 1967:149-51). The steward’s major responsibility was to care for the other servants’ welfare, especially to allot food to them. Food might be handed out daily, weekly or monthly. A steward’s job was to serve, not to exercise power. This may well be why Jesus uses the image (Manson 1957:118).
What kind of steward God expects us? God expects Christian as accountable, faithful and productive stewards of God’s grace and gifts of creation, life, body, talents and skills and wealth and possession.
Negatively, in order that the Lord will find us responsible, faithful and productive stewards when he comes in glory, let us avoid some of these pitfalls and mistakes while awaiting the second coming of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior:
· First, complacency that Jesus’ return is not yet imminent.
· Second, idleness or sloth. Doing nothing.
· Third, gross negligence in the performance of duties.
· Fourth, procrastination. Always postponing to another day what can be done for today.
· Fourth, abuse of power and position and squandering of resources.
· Fifth, manana habit. Only good in beginning. Lack of perseverance.
Positively, let us religiously perform the tasks require of us and fulfill our role as stewards of God’s gifts and graces:
· First, protect, preserve and conserve all Gods’ gifts entrusted to us.
· Second, develop to the maximum all the spiritual, material and physical resources entrusted to our care.
· Third, communicate and share all the fruits and benefits of the gifts and talents we preserved, developed and cultivated.
Good stewards will be generously rewarded while bad stewards will be severely punished and will suffer a great loss. “The reward or punishment will be proportioned to the powers, gifts, opportunities, and knowledge of the offenders.” As scripture says: ‘everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required’; cf. Mt 5:19-20; 7:21-22; 25:41-46; Jas 2:14.
Friends, if and when the Lord comes now, do you think will he find you responsible, faithful and productive stewards or lazy, abusive and unfaithful stewards. Can you give him an account of your stewardship? Remember, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity” (Gladiator Poster).