February 5, 2017 Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon Steve Whiteman

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 5, 2017

Reading 1IS 58:7-10

Responsorial PsalmPS 112:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

  1. (4a) The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.

Reading 21 COR 2:1-5

AlleluiaJN 8:12

GospelMT 5:13-16

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Feb 5, 2017

Our readings this weekend challenge us to live a Christian life of stewardship. As it turns out, being charitable was not a new idea that Jesus introduced in His lifetime. Our first reading from Isaiah would have been written for the Israelites about 700 years before the time of Jesus. Isaiah tells us to:   ·        Share your bread with the hungry                                                                                         ·        Shelter the oppressed and the homeless                                                                                    ·        Clothe the naked

In addition to these acts of charity, he gave us a list of blessings: 

  • Your wound shall quickly be healed                                                                                      ·        Your vindication shall go before you                                                                                      ·        You shall call and the Lord will answer

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to be “…the light of the world” He tells us to not hide our light under a basket but let our “light shine before others…and glorify your heavenly Father.”

I’ve always liked the metaphor comparing a life of Stewardship with a shining light. This image also helps us realize that not everyone’s light will shine the same way. Just as there are many different colors of light, God has given us many different gifts to serve with.  

In addition, Jesus told us to be “the salt of the earth.” I’ve always wondered about the meaning of that phrase. One Bible commentary said that salt was an important preservative in the ancient world. It was used to preserve meat and prevent decay. Perhaps we can be the salt that prevents the moral decay of situations around us by setting a good example of stewardship. When we set a good example, it’s easier for others to follow that pattern and become salt for someone else.

Now that we have covered the metaphors, let’s talk about ways we can apply this in our own life. Let’s start with some questions:

  • What is Christian Stewardship?                                                                                             ·        What are some obstacles to Stewardship &                                                                             ·        How can we find more opportunities to let our light shine?

Most of us can already point to several great examples of Stewardship in own lives but let’s get everyone on the same page with a definition. The U.S. Catholic Bishops have given us a place to start. They define Christian Stewardship as the “generous giving of time, talent, and treasure.” 

They go beyond these familiar words to say that Christian stewards, “receive God's gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.”

As it turns out, the definition is not a problem but there are challenges in practicing good stewardship every day. There will always be obstacles in our life that work against us. There will always be a selfish temptation to focus on ourselves instead of helping others.

I’m not sure if you had the chance to read the book Father Jim gave us for Christmas: Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly. Chapter 32 covered this topic really well. It said we are the perfect mix of talents and abilities to fulfill the mission that God has in mind for us. Unfortunately obstacles or resistance in our lives tries to stop us from letting our light shine. This resistance can take several forms including fear, laziness, selfishness and addiction. They can drain our energy and distract us from opportunities to be better Christian Stewards.  

  • So how do we overcome this resistance?
  • How do we rise above these obstacles?

The exact solution may be different for each one of us but here are a few from the book to pick from:

  • Take time each day to list what we are thankful for. A few months ago we had the challenge to think of 3 things we are thankful for before 3pm each day. Consider doing that again to put things in perspective.
  • Keep a list of the ways we are helping other people now. We can ask ourselves: do these activities make the best use of the gifts God has given us? Do they bring us peace in our lives and closer to God? If not, we may want to reconsider how we use our time, talent and treasure.
  • Look for things small things we can offer up each day for other people. This will take on new meaning during Lent but let’s start small: don’t eat the last donut, don’t take the closest parking spot at the grocery store or consider giving a few extra dollars to charity instead of going out to eat.  Offer these up directly to someone in need or through prayer.

These are small things but work directly against the temptations of laziness and selfishness. They can help us stay focused everyday on Stewardship. .

The last tip for overcoming obstacles to Stewardship has a Superbowl theme. It’s a visual exercise from Father John Haugen that involves sitting on the couch and watching instant replays. Instead of sitting on the couch with our family watching the Superbowl, imagine sitting on a couch next to Jesus at the end of the day. We are watching an instant replay of our day. As the images go by, we are reminded of times we were a good Christian Steward and times we weren’t. We might even remember some missed opportunities we had. In prayer we can turn to Jesus sitting next to us. We can ask Him what got in the way of being a better Christian Steward and what we can do different tomorrow. We can ask Him to help us better see the needs of those around us and find the love and motivation to help them.

As we forge ahead in this dark season of winter, may our life of Stewardship reflect the light of Christ.

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