Today’s Epistle (Acts 20:7-12) is about Eutychus and how he was brought back to life. Although this miracle is the focal point, I reflected upon the activities of the day. Paul “spoke to them and continued his message until midnight!” There were “many lamps in the upper room where they all gathered.” Some, including Eutychus, even occupied windows in order to be able to listen to the word of God and learn from Paul’s teachings. St. John Chrysostom reflects… “Picture to yourself, I beseech you, that house with its lights, with its crowd, with Paul in their midst, discoursing with even the windows occupied by many. What a thing to see!
Yes, what a thing to see! And today, it is so hard to gather a handful of people to listen to the word of God. Our schedules are full, we are too busy, we just can’t find the time to sit through a religious education class. With all of the errands and tasks on our to do lists, it is important to reflect on the Lord every day. Now one asks, how is this related to Stewardship? It emphasizes the use of our Time, Talents and Treasures. Here, Time is the most critical. Will we have the fervor of the faith to take the time to learn about our faith as Eutychus did? Will we take the time to attend Church services (especially during summer)? Will we make the time to do good works as Christ did, with our family? Will we prioritize prayer and scriptural readings each day?
We must take advantage of every opportunity to strengthen our faith. Christ, on many occasions, discussed how we will be judged by the works that we do. St. Gregory reflects:
Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for us became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonored that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin.
Reflecting on Matthew 18:21-35, St. Athanasios says… For the one who gave it wasn’t a hard man. If he had been hard, he wouldn’t have given the money in the first place. And the gift wasn’t useless. He never found fault with it. For the giver was good and the gift was capable of bearing fruit. Therefore, Christ praises those who enlarge their gifts. He said – “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful in a little, I will place thee over much!”
Deuteronomy 14:22 – Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.
Everything we receive is a blessing or gift from God and within the Holy Scriptures, many references relate to tithing. To tithe is to set aside 10% of your income, resources, earnings etc. for God and His work. Many of the faithful are troubled by this concept yet it is a simple guideline one may follow. God knows each and every one of us – what we can and can’t do – and His expectation is for us to provide all that we can.
Luke 12:48 – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
As we reflect on these verses, we remember that God created each and every one of us as an individual, with unique characteristics, features, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. And when we think about Stewardship, what makes our Time, Talents and Treasures a benefit is the fact that each one of us is unique. An accountant, a chef, a painter, a teacher, an attorney or a nurse… all have skills that are unique. Stewardship allows the faithful to show their love for God through an individual effort and expression of what they can do to help the Church.
During the spring & summer months, please ask your priest how you can help the Church with your skills and talents. There are many projects that will not only keep the parish in “good working order” but also support the many ministries that the Church provides. Let’s show God how much we love Him! Individually and as a Steward of our parish!
CHRIST IS RISEN!
Throughout the Lenten Season and the Liturgical Year, we reflect on Christ’s death, His Resurrection and the hope of personal Salvation. But, this will take effort and if we think forty days of Lent was a challenge, difficult or an adjustment, let’s consider what our effort needs to be during this temporary earthly time. Every day must focus on God’s glory and pleasing Him! The best way to live for God is through Stewardship – providing our Time, Talents and Treasures in all that we do. Glory be to God! Let us prepare to stand before Him and be accountable.
The poor man who begs and the rich man who gives–both make the Lord their debtor, but only under the condition that the poor man begs in the name of the Lord with humility and that the rich man gives in the name of the Lord with compassion. Everyone who receives should know that he receives that which belongs to God, and everyone who gives should know that he gives that which belongs to God. Such giving has a price and such receiving has a price. All of us enter this world naked, and naked shall we leave this world. All of us are beggars before the Lord, for we possess nothing that we have not received from the Lord. Therefore, give to the poor man as God has given to you. You take what is another’s and you give to your own when you perform charity (give alms). The poor man is closer to you than all of your goods, even as to God, the Creator of men, every man is incomparably more precious than all of his goods. If you have been given riches, they have been given to you for temptation: that your heart be tempted! That God and all the heavenly hosts might see whether you understood from whom are all your riches and why they were given to you. Blessed are you if you know that your goods are from God and belong to God! Blessed are you if you consider the poor as your companions, as members of your family, and share with them that which God has entrusted to you!
Throughout life, we focus on our many dreams, goals and objectives… endless discussions, multiple planning sessions and many task lists. But whatever we do, unless we move to an action phase, nothing becomes a reality. As with Stewardship, we must take the first step and with Pascha only a week away, let us double our efforts to take action, especially with our Time, Talents & Treasures. St. Theophan the Recluse says… “Oh when will we talk less and act more and through our actions witness our love for the Lord? You might say – if He were here, I would be ready to do everything for HIm – but He is here, invisible in His person, but visible in all Christians, more of all in the needy. Anoint the invisible Lord with loving prayer of the heart and mind and for His sake do everything possible for the needy, and you will be doing this for God!”