A stewardship reminder

By | July 14, 2010

Most of us have at one time or another shared Martha’s sentiments in the Gospel. Jesus has come to dinner at the home of his three friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Hospitality, even to strangers, was an important consideration in the culture of the Jews. The first reading gives us an example of such hospitality as Abraham welcomes three strangers who stop by his tent.

Martha busies herself serving Jesus actively as she prepares the meal and offers it to all. Her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet listening to what he says. When Martha complains that she is doing all the work while Mary merely enjoys Jesus’ company, he affirms Mary’s choice. In fact both sisters offer hospitality — Martha by visible service, Mary by her full attention. Mary’s service is one of presence. True hospitality, true service includes both kinds of action.

Each time we gather to celebrate the Mass we are reminded of God’s many gifts, material as well as spiritual. We recall the gift of Jesus’ great sacrifice for us especially in the prayers of the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Scripture readings and prayers remind us of the many ways God has intervened in human history. In the preface and acclamations we verbally thank God. As Mass ends, we are told to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” We call such gratitude which leads to service “stewardship.” At Mass we are reminded of our calling to stewardship. Like St. Paul in today’s second reading, we recognize that each of us is “a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given” to us.

We exercise this stewardship by means of time/prayer, talent/service and treasure/sharing. We give actively as Martha did when we use our abilities to better our parish or community. We give of our presence or attention as Mary did when we take time to pray or reflect on God’s word. When we share our resources to help our parish, diocese or charitable organizations we engage in the service of sharing or treasure. We need to give in each of these ways to grow in our relationship with God. Each time that we celebrate the Mass the prayers and readings remind us of the gifts we have received and that what we are given is never meant to be kept just for ourselves. On July 9, the opening prayer specifically asks God to “Fill us with your gifts and make us always eager to serve you in faith, hope and love.”

As Christians every one of us is called to stewardship as he or she is able. With Martha and Mary as our examples we are sent forth from Mass to live as God’s servants through lives dedicated to prayer, sharing and service.

 

Johnston is the former director of worship at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Manitowoc.

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