19th Sunday of Ordinary Time:
Today in the Gospel there is an unusual tension. On the one hand, Jesus begins by telling his little flock: do not be afraid. This was one of the great messages from John Paul II: do not be afraid. There is much in this life that could cause us fear and anxiety, but our relationship with Christ gives us the strength to face whatever comes our way.
Yet, in the same reading we hear a stern admonition: you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Jesus tells us to make sure we are one of the good stewards who is found doing the right thing. If not, Jesus starts to talk about severe beatings, which don’t sound like much fun! And perhaps the most challenging sentence in the whole reading is the last one: much will be required of the one entrusted with much.
My friends, all of us have been entrusted with so much. Absolutely everything we have, everything we are comes from God. We wouldn’t have life if it weren’t for God. We wouldn’t have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. God made all things, he sustains all things. Without God nothing would exist. Without God we wouldn’t exist. All of our talent, enthusiasm, and hard work are also gifts that came from God. Everything comes from him. Further, think of the gift of salvation that the Lord Jesus gives us from the cross. Think of his gifts of grace that he pours out in the sacraments. Every day we gather around this altar and Jesus gives us his very Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. If we stop and think about it, the generosity of God is truly amazing.
Today’s reading is a compelling reminder that each one of us will be asked to give an account. Each one of us will be asked a simple question: after everything I have given you, and everything I have done for you, what did you do for me? How did you repay my generosity, how did you put the riches I gave you to good use for those around you?
I don’t know of anyone who is perfect. I know that I am a sinner. I know that I haven’t always lived up to my end of the bargain. I know that sometimes I haven’t made the best use of all that God has given me. So when we think about our judgment, we might have a tendency to get anxious and worried. But, this is why I think it is so important to remember that first line of Jesus.
My little flock: do not be afraid. We should not be worried or afraid when we hear today’s reading. Rather, Jesus did not come to condemn us. He came to save us. He came to show us the way to the Father. Today he is reminding us that we will give an account for all that God has given us, but he does not say this so as to instill fear. Rather, he tells us this to motivate us always to grow closer to him.
First, start with thanksgiving. Remember that we are stewards of all the good things God has given us. We need to remember that everything we have and everything we are is because God gives it to us. Then we try to be as generous as God is to us. St. Jude’s is already a very generous parish. But, are there still more ways we can give? Jesus does not want us fearful and timid. Rather, he calls us to the same kind of generosity of spirit that he showed us on the cross.
Today as we celebrate this Holy Eucharist, we give thanks for all that God has done for us, and as we leave the church today we are sent on a mission to be the good steward who awaits the return of Christ our Savior.