19 October 2010

Making known the inscrutable riches of Christ

29th Week OT (Wed)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Jesus tells his disciples that they must be prepared for his unexpected return. That's just a little strange. How do you prepare for an unexpected return? There is only one way: always be prepared! You might think that Jesus is warning us that he intends to pop out from behind the sofa while we party and yell, “Gotcha!” The threat of his sudden appearance is supposed to keep us on our toes, ever vigilant against a surprise inspection from Big Daddy in the sky. However, the parable he tells is more about faithful stewardship than it is about being constantly on guard for surprises. Think of it this way: you can be a faithful servant b/c you are scared of getting caught being unfaithful, or you can be a faithful servant b/c you ARE a faithful servant. This is the difference between being stunted in your spiritual growth and being spiritually mature. Peter asks Jesus if his initial warning is meant for the disciples alone or for everyone. Jesus answers with a parable about stewardship. As is usually the case with parables, the answer is not black and white. Yes, stewards are the ones left in charge of the household, so it's pretty clear that Jesus is talking to those he will leave behind to oversee his Church. However, in baptism, each of us is made a steward of God's grace for the benefit of everyone else. So, is the initial warning to always be prepared meant for the disciples or everyone else? The answer is both. All of us must always be prepared for the Master's return. In fact, we are charged with fulfilling the duties of the stewards of God's grace as if the Master never left us. The spiritually immature Christian await his return with some measure of fear, some sense of foreboding that a severe beating is on the way. The spiritually mature Christian knows that the Master never left, that he is with us always and all we do in his name is done in his presence. As sinners we have been entrusted with more than deserve. Having been made stewards of God's grace we are entrusted with the responsibility of preaching “the inscrutable riches of Christ. . .so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens.” No small task! But not a burden either if we do our work in the knowledge that Christ is always with us, always abiding in the Body as our daily bread, the hour to hour source of all that is good.

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