“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Stewardship “Gift” Prayer
Lord, you alone are the source of every good gift,
of the vast array of our universe,
and the mystery of each human life.
We praise you and we thank you
for your great power and your tender, faithful
Everything we are and everything we have
is your gift,
and after having created us,
You have given us the greatest of all gifts, your son,
Fill our minds with His truth
and our hearts with His love,
that in His Spirit
we may be bonded together into a community
of faithful, caring people.
In the name and spirit of Jesus,
we commit ourselves to be good stewards
of the gifts entrusted to us,
to share our time, our talent
and our material gifts as an outward sign
of the treasure we hold in Jesus.
Almighty ever-living God,
whom, taught by the Holy Spirit,
we dare to call our Father,
bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts
the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters,
that we may merit to enter into the inheritance
which you have promised.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
The night of the passover
was known beforehand to
our fathers, that, with sure
knowledge of the oaths in
which they put their faith,
they might have courage.
Your people awaited the
salvation of the just
and the destruction of their foes.
For when you punished our adversaries,
in this you glorified us whom you had summoned.
For in secret the holy children of the good were offering sacrifice
and putting into effect with one accord the divine institution.
The author of the book of Wisdom, writing for his fellow-Jews in Egypt, recalls to their memories the great miracles, especially the last one, which led to the liberation of their ancestors from this land of slavery. The Exodus, as it is called, resulted in their final establishment in Canaan, the land that God had promised to Abraham as the home of his descendants. He recalls this long-past event to encourage them to persevere in their faith, for the God who did these great things for their ancestors is the same God whom they worship still. He continues to be interested in those who serve him, and is always ready to come to their assistance.
This Exodus, this marvelous intervention of God on behalf of his Chosen People, is of even greater interest to us, the Chosen People of the new dispensation. It was on the occasion of the feast of the Jewish Passover that our Passover Lamb, the Son of God, was sacrificed for us and we were sprinkled with his precious blood. Thus began the Exodus of all men from the slavery of this life on earth, and thus they set out for the real promised land, their true and everlasting home.
The Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt was a type, a foreshadowing, a prophecy, of the real liberation of mankind and of the elevation of man to citizenship of the new kingdom, God’s everlasting heaven. It was for this very reason that Christ chose this great prophetic festival of the Jews on which to allow himself to be sacrificed for our liberation. Christ was the true Paschal or Passover Lamb. Through his sacrifice of himself, we have been freed from the slavery of sin, and have been made sons of God and heirs of heaven towards which we set out the moment we are baptized.
Today, by reading this lesson from the Book of Wisdom to us, the Church wants to remind us of all we owe to God. Before creation began, he was thinking of us and planning to give us the power to share his divine happiness with him. This he did through the Incarnation, because Christ shared our humanity with us, we come to share his divinity with him. Preparing the world for the Incarnation involved the whole history of the Chosen People. The Exodus from Egypt was a milestone in that history and in it was foreshadowed the event for which it was but a preparation. We Christians can never forget the Exodus, and the Passover feast which commemorates it, because the fulfillment of that prophetic event of the history of the Israelites was for us, not only a milestone, but a turning-point in the history of man’s relation with God.
We are now freemen of heaven. We are on our way there, because of God’s infinite love for us. Our promised land is just over the horizon; it is within the reach of every one of us. We may have a few obstacles to overcome but, with Christ’s leadership, and the assistance of the almighty power of God, there is none so weak amongst us that he cannot overcome these obstacles and reach heaven, the goal that God has prepared for him from all eternity.
Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Exult, you just, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
HEB 11:1-2, 8-12
Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what
is hoped for and evidence
of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients
were well attested.
By faith Abraham obeyed when
he was called to go out to a
place that he was to receive as
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
—and Sarah herself was sterile—
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.
Our faith, our firm belief in the truth of all we have learned about God and our relationship with him, and also our unshakable trust in the promises he has solemnly given to us, is a free gift of God. It is one of the three theological virtues given to us in baptism, and it is the solid basis of the other two; we hope for all the help we need in this life and for an eternal happy future, and we love God and our neighbor because we know that God exists and is deserving of all our love.
We have never seen God. No human being is capable of seeing God while on this earth, but we know he exists because he has told us so indirectly and directly. The universe, with its precision and perfection, reveals him to us, and tells us much about his nature. He must be all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving. He must be supreme and absolutely independent of any other being. The created, finite universe demands a Creator, and our human intellect will not rest in any intermediate cause or creator; it must arrive at the uncaused Cause, another name for God. He has therefore, given us indirectly a proof of his existence.
His love for man, and his special plans for him, moved God to reveal himself directly to mankind. Firstly, he did so through the Patriarchs and the Prophets of the Old Testament, and finally, in a much more complete way, through his divine Son whom he sent on earth to tell us about the three divine persons and their plan for our eternal salvation.
As Christians, then, not only do we know that God exists, but we know enough about the nature of God and about his loving interest in us, to enable us to entrust ourselves entirely to him and to be ready to obey every command and direction which he gives us for our temporal and eternal welfare. As Christians, therefore, we have confident assurance that God exists and that he loves us; that, through the Incarnation of his divine Son, he has arranged to share his heaven with us when we leave this world. That he will help us on the way is a certainty, for Christ left us his Church with the power of giving us his sacraments as well as sure guidance on our journey.
Let us thank God for this divine gift of faith and cherish it as the most valuable gift we have. Life without it would not only be an enigma, an insoluble puzzle, but for any man who stops and thinks, it could only be the product of some diseased mind or the cruelest of jokers. All our powers, all our desires for happiness, all our marvelous gifts of intellect and will, all to perish forever in a few years’ time! Could a hole in the ground six feet by three be the end of one who can probe the heavens, control the elements, reach to the moon and beyond, and dream of ever-widening conquests of nature? Could the man who can build bridges and buildings that will last for hundreds of years, who can compose works of literature and art that will live as long as this earth is inhabited, could he end just like the cow or the horse, a lump of useless dust after a few years of life on earth?
For anyone who admits the existence of an intelligent Creator, and that should be for anyone who has the use of his reason, such a thought is absurd. God made us fit for an unending life, and before he made us, he had prepared the way and the means to give us that eternal life. This is what our Christian faith teaches us. This is what common, human reasoning tells us ought to be. This is how things will be for each one of us, if we not only cherish our gift of faith, but live according to its teaching every day of our lives.
To get to heaven, the place God has planned for us, it is not enough to be theoretical Christians; we must put our Christian faith into daily practice.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock,
for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out,
an inexhaustible treasure in heaven
that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“Gird your loins and light your lamps
and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.
Blessed are those servants
whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.
Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself,
have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.
Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect,
the Son of Man will come.”
Then Peter said,
“Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”
And the Lord replied,
“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
‘My master is delayed in coming,’
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant’s master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master’s will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 543 Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.1 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word:
The word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field; those who hear it with faith and are numbered among the little flock of Christ have truly received the kingdom. Then, by its own power, the seed sprouts and grows until the harvest.2
CCC 764 “This Kingdom shines out before men in the word, in the works and in the presence of Christ.”3 To welcome Jesus’ word is to welcome “the Kingdom itself.”3 The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the “little flock” of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.5 They form Jesus’ true family.6 To those whom he thus gathered around him, he taught a new “way of acting” and a prayer of their own.7
CCC 2849 Such a battle and such a victory become possible only through prayer. It is by his prayer that Jesus vanquishes the tempter, both at the outset of his public mission and in the ultimate struggle of his agony.8 In this petition to our heavenly Father, Christ unites us to his battle and his agony. He urges us to vigilance of the heart in communion with his own. Vigilance is “custody of the heart,” and Jesus prayed for us to the Father: “Keep them in your name.”9 The Holy Spirit constantly seeks to awaken us to keep watch.10 Finally, this petition takes on all its dramatic meaning in relation to the last temptation of our earthly battle; it asks for final perseverance. “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake.”11
1 Cf. Mt 8:11 10:5-7; 28:19.
2 LC 5; cf. Mk 4:14, 26-29; Lk 12:32.
3 LG 5.
4 LG 5.
5 Lk 12:32; cf. Mt 10:16; 26:31; Jn 10:1-21.
6 Cf. Mt 12:49.
7 Cf. Mt 5-6.
8 Cf. Mt 4:1-11; 26:36-44.
9 Jn 17:11; Cf. Mk 13:9, 23, 33-37; 14:38; Lk 12:35-40.
10 Cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Pet 5:8.
11 Rev 16:15.
This teaching of our Lord should make us all sit up and take serious notice this morning. He has taken us into his household. He has made us his “little flock.” We are invited guests in his home, his Church, rather than mere servants. He warns us today that we must always be busy about our vocation, about the reason why he invited us into his home. If we grasped clearly what that call of Christ means, what our Christian vocation is, we would hardly need today’s warning. We are Christians, we are members of his Church, for our own eternal good. God, through Christ’s Incarnation, has put us on the road to heaven. He is ever helping us on the way. Could we be so blind to our own welfare that we would risk losing the eternal life that God has in store for us, and for which he went to the extreme lengths of love? In our saner moments we would give an emphatic no to this question. Yet, we must look the real facts of life in the face. There are many Christians who are destined for heaven but who, in their folly, have left the only road which leads there, and are now traveling in the opposite direction.
Some of us here present may be among these foolish ones. We may have let this world get such a grip on us that we have no time or thought for the world that is to come. For such foolish people, and indeed for all of us, today’s warning is that our call to judgement will come on each one of us like a thief in the night, at a moment when we least expect it. This need not be a sudden death. Of every thousand who die after long illnesses in our hospitals, there rarely is one who knows and admits he is about to die, so actually all deaths are sudden, that is, unexpected.
However the unexpected death, which we are sure to get, need not worry the ordinary good Christian. It is the unprepared, the unprovided-for, death which must cause us anxiety. It need not, if, when it comes, it finds us living in God’s grace, living the ordinary Christian life, doing our daily tasks but doing them as part of our duty to God. We have to take an interest in the affairs of this world, but the interest must never exclude our eternal interest. Instead it can and must help us toward the one real interest that man has in this life, that is, to earn his eternal life.
Take a serious look at your way of living, today. Is our behavior in the home, in your place of work, in your recreation, in your relations with God–prayers and church attendance—and with your neighbor, it is such that you would change nothing in it, if you were told by God that you were to die tonight? If it is, thank God for it and keep on going; you are on the right road. If it is not, don’t wait for God to tell you when or where you will die; he will not tell you. Put things right today, and then you need not worry when your call to judgement comes. Death will be graduation day for the good Christian–not examination day.
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission by Franciscan Press.
Why Jesus Washes Our Feet
Anyone who is not numbered among the powerful will be thankful whenever he sees someone powerful not helping himself at life’s table. When the powerful person sees the power or possessions that have been given hum as a mandate to be service to others… As long as power and wealth are seen as ends in themselves, then power is always a power to be used against others and possessions will always exclude others. At that moment when the Lord of the world comes and undertakes the slave’s task of foot-washing – which is, in turn, only an illustration of the way he washes our feet all through our lives – we have a totally different picture. God, who is absolute power itself, doesn’t want to trample on us, but kneels down before us so as to exalt us. The mystery of the greatness of God is seen precisely in the fact that he can be small. He doesn’t always have to take the highest place or the box seats. God is trying in this way to wean us away from our ideas of power and domination. He shows us that it is in fact a trifling matter if I can give orders to a great crowd of people and have everything I could want – and that it is great if I undertake the service of others… Only when power is changed from the inside, when our relationship to possessions is changed from within and we accept Jesus and his way of life, whose whole self is there in the action of foot-washing, only then can the world be healed and people be able to live at peace with one another. Jesus shows us what man ought to be, how he ought to live, and what we ought to work toward.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Stewardship Giving Prayer
Good and gracious God,
We thank you for all we are, and all we have.
Everything is a gift from your infinite generosity.
We marvel how bountiful is your kindness.
We rest in appreciation of your enduring mercy.
As we explore our responsibility to be good stewards,
Fill us with the compassion of Jesus, your Son.
Give us eyes to see the needs of those around us,
In the faces of our neighbors near and far.
Give us hearts that are moved by the pleas of those who cry out.
On behalf of the children, the refugees, the sick, and the suffering.
Give us hands that are eager to share what has been entrusted to us.
For the homeless and those alone in their homes.
Give us feet to venture wherever the Spirit leads.
For the mission to bring your good news to all.
As we resolve to be mindful of the needs of others, we pray that
You instill in us your generosity, your kindness, and your mercy.
Free us from all attachments to the things of this world.
Keep us focused in our mission of good stewardship.
In Jesus’ name we pray.