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Dear OLPH,

Greetings in Christ, dear brothers and sisters! Last week we began a new message series: Mercy and Our Response. If you ever miss an article, head to our website: Look for “From Father’s Desk” or “Pastor’s Page”.

Last week we meditated on the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 15 - the epicenter of mercy in the Gospel of Mercy. We recognized the way God seeks us out to extend his merciful hand. In this process, our task is to admit our need, recognizing how much we need the Lord. To repeat the eloquence of Bishop Sheen, “Sin is not the worst thing in the world, the denial of sin is. If I deny that I am a sinner, how can I ever be forgiven?” Only the denial of our need prevents the Lord from acting, since He respects our freedom in love.

Today in the Gospel (Lk 16:1-13) we encounter a steward who is ready to admit his condition. He has come under the judgment of his master and will be dismissed for dishonest practice. In a last ditch effort, he further cheats his master by lowering what is owed by his debtors. And Jesus commends the steward. Wait… how’s that?

Jesus makes the comparison between children of this world and children of light, between dishonest wealth (worldliness) and true wealth. He uses this unusual example to encourage his disciples to learn from the prudence of the crafty steward.

Scott Hahn puts it this way, “He is a child of this world, driven by a purely selfish motive—to make friends and be welcomed into the homes of his master’s debtors…. We too must realize, as the steward does, that what we have is not honestly ours, but in truth belongs to another, our Master.”

Ultimately, all will be asked “to provide a full account of their stewardship.” We will be summoned to account for the myriad ways we put our whole lives in the service of our divine Master. Our time, our talents and our treasure - the three T’s of stewardship - will be weighed in a balance.

If we admit that we are stewards, then it follows that our lives are not our own. Saint Paul teaches the same, so it should not surprise us (Acts 20:24 and Gal 2:20). Our lives were purchased by the blood of the Lamb, rescued from the slavery of sin to live in the freedom of the sons of God. We are not our own. We belong to Christ. So too, our time and talents and treasure are not fully ours. Sure, we have some control over them, like the steward from the Gospel, but these truly belong to the Master, to our loving God.
And our lives are measured in the degree and to the perfection that we make a return to the Lord. So the beautiful pining in the psalm: “How can I make a return to the Lord for all His goodness to me?” (Ps 116:12).

Our task, as children of the light, is to avoid serving mammon as a false god while recognizing that we are mere custodians/stewards of what has been entrusted to us. This includes our whole reality: our health, our days, our abilities, and our finances.

During this message series, I invite you to examine your life in prayer with Christ. Ask: how fully am I placing my whole life in the service of the Gospel? This includes weekly sacrificial giving to our parish, support of the Annual Catholic Appeal, and other charities, but also serving the Lord with gladness in a way that puts your talents and time at the service of the Gospel.
God proves himself merciful and generous with us. How well are we making a return as his faithful stewards?

With a generous heart,
Fr. Wilson

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