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September 22, 2019: The Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time -Associate Pastor’s Corner

Last week, Fr. Michael spoke to us about the Archdiocesan Annual Appeal. This initiative by the Archdiocese, gives us the opportunity to give of our financial resources to allow the Body of Christ in San Francisco to visit the imprisoned, to attend to the sick, and the offer Catholic education to the youngest amongst us.  Envelopes for AAA are still in your pews and in the entrances in the Church if you would like to participate in the mission of our Archdiocese. Thank you for your generosity. 

While Fr. Michael had been encouraging us to be part of this mission, I was reminded that the gifts that we have are not our own.  In fact, hardly anything that we have permanently belongs to us. The apartments or houses in which we live will eventually be rented out to another.  The blankets that cover us soon will be passed down.  The health that we have will eventually falter. Even our faith, which many readers take seriously, doesn’t belong to us. This faith has been handed down to us, for us to then hand down.

In short, we are stewards.  The things in which we hold in our hands are for our protection and use, but not for our ownership.  They are given to us to protect, love, and behold, but not to covet and clench onto.  

For myself, the first example that comes to mind is the Holy Father.  Pope Francis’ primary role is to be the Vicar of Christ.  Pope Francis is a touchstone, an assurance, the voice of Christ here below, meant to remind us that Jesus is with us always, just as He had promised.  Only rarely, and with generations of Christians in deep contemplation, can the Holy Father ‘change things’ (like defining the Immaculate Conception), but even then, we do not call this a ‘change’ per se, we call it a confirmation.  As in, the Pope confirms something that the Christian people had long believed, as taught by our earliest teachers (like Mary being born without the stain of sin). But for the most part, what does the Pope do?  He reminds us of what Jesus taught us.  He reminds us that Jesus is still with us.  He reminds us to stay together, and continue to be the best version of the Body of Christ. The Pope is a steward. 

In our Gospel, we read, “If you are not trustworthy with that belongs to another, who will give you what is yours?”  We Christians have been given our faith, we have been given each other, we have been given trials, gifts, charisms, circumstances, and dumb luck in order to be transformed into the next great generation of saints.  And only by allowing Christ to transform us through these means can we be given the one true thing that God our Father wants to give us: Heaven. 

Our readings today remind us that we are stewards of God’s many gifts. Our reading from the Prophet Amos reminds us how to take care of the poor and the helpless.  Our reading from First Timothy reminds us how to be a peaceful steward of our Christian community.  The Gospel reminds us how to gain deeper trust of God’s many gifts.  It is our privilege to protect and contemplate the gifts that are in our hands, to contemplate it, and to pass it on (unblemished) to the next generation. We are to use these gifts in order to allow Jesus to transform us into the next generation of saints.

~Fr. Isaiah Mary

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