The Orthodox Gospel reading for this Sunday is about the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). Its primary focus is humility. While reflecting on these verses, we are asked to consider which person do we typically act like? Are we humble in our actions with family, at work or with fellow parishioners?
In Father Alexander Schmemann’s book entitled Great Lent-Journey to Pascha – he says “Humility – be it individual or corporate, ethnic or national – is viewed as a sign of weakness, as something unbecoming of a real man. Even our Churches – are they not imbued with the same spirit of the Pharisee? Do we not want our every contribution. every good deed, all that we do for the Church to be acknowledged, praised and publicized?” God asks us to consider our Stewardship through prayer and focus on how we will be judged as stewards of what He provides. This should be done with humility, between the Steward and God.
As I was reading Scriptures, I noted several reference points related to our salvation and good works. Faith is great, but it must be accompanied by good works – we will be judged based on our good works – our use of Time and Talents are measured by our good works. Reflecting on Stewardship, I thought about the many times I planned to participate in charitable events, but either didn’t – or did, and grumbled about it. I read a homily from St. John Chrysostom who said “Do you see that our part is necessary, not merely works, but zealous; we should with all alacrity, with a becoming earnestness, go forward in virtue.”
In other words, all of our Stewardship efforts must be done with zeal, energy, happiness and a positive attitude. Something to think about – I know I will!
One of the Scripture readings for last week (Luke 2:20-21, 40-52) portrays Jesus’ separation from His parents and when asked, He simply says “Didn’t you know I’d be about My Father’s business?”
It is our business! No matter what our career choice is, we must also take responsibility for His business. This is our Stewardship – using our Time, Talents and Treasures to do God’s work. What does this mean? Matthew 25: 31-46 describes our responsibility as Stewards. Simply, we must look out for and help those in need, those around us in our neighborhood, at work or at school. This is His Father’s business! Let’s get to work!
You should know that in the world to come also you will be judged in the lot of those with whom in this life you have been affected by sharing in their gain or loss, or joy or sorrow.
St. John Cassian
I thought about this from a business perspective… when my associate does well, do I congratulate him?- when my co-worker receives a promotion, do I extend my sincere appreciation for her accomplishments? – when my manager runs into a challenge, do I offer my assistance?… all, at times, very difficult to do however, Stewardship extends to daily interaction in all aspects of our life. Make a difference today!
Many times, I think about St. Theophan’s reflection on the Ten lepers and simply, remembering to say “Thank You” – thank you to God for the blessings received each and every day. When we talk about Time, Talents and Treasures, consider all of the ways you can impact your Stewardship by extending a simple thank you – to God, your Bishop, your Priest, your family, your neighbors… God blesses us with many opportunities daily!
Ten lepers were healed, but only one came to thank the Lord. Isn’t there generally a similar proportion of people who are grateful after receiving benefactions from the Lord? Who has not received good things; or, rather, what do we have in us, or what ever happens to us that is not good for us? Even so, is everyone grateful to God, and does everyone give thanks for everything? There are even those who permit themselves to ask, “Why did God give us existence? It would be better for us not to exist.” God gave you existence so that you would be in eternal bliss; He gave you existence as a gift, as a gift He has furnished you with every means for attaining eternal bliss. The job depends on you: you need only to labour a bit for this. You say, “But I have only sorrows, poverty, diseases, misfortunes.” Well, these are also some of the ways to attain eternal bliss. Be patient. Your entire life is less than a moment compared with eternity. Even if you had to suffer unceasingly your entire life, against eternity it is nothing; and you still have moments of consolation. Do not look at the present, but at what is prepared for you in the future, and concern yourself with making yourself worthy of that; then you will not notice the sorrows. They will all be swallowed up by unquestioning hope in eternal consolations, and your lips will never cease to utter thanks.
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