Lenten Journey Day 21 – Stewardship
We are over half way through the Lenten season. We climbed up the hill and we are now at the summit, coming down. We look down from the summit and see two paths, one behind us and even more importantly, the path in front of us. It is this path that connects to a larger road which is the journey of life. All that we are discovering during this Lenten period is part of the self-improvement process which fortifies our position in life by granting us the tools to better meet the challenges of life, be they physical, emotional or spiritual. God gives us the tools to handle the complexities of life and to render the journey a simple one.
As we come down off of the mountain, we enter a world that is very real. It is a world filled with difficulties and challenges, but at the same time, it has many victories. It has many moments for us to rejoice and many more to enjoy. Life is very real! How appropriate, that today, at this half-way mark in Lent, the Armenian Church prescribes the Parable of the Dishonest Steward as its Lenten lesson. This is a lesson that connects us to the reality of life.
The Parable of the Dishonest Steward is given to us by our Lord Jesus. We read that there was a dishonest steward, that is, a manager. He was charged to take care of his boss’ assets and money. This man was wise and calculating. He took actions that benefitted himself and at the same time his boss. Jesus refers to him as a shrewd, and even “dishonest” manager. Jesus brings it down to this, “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
This manager is the second character in a trilogy, like the prodigal son from last week and the unrighteous judge that we will look at next week. This character is far from the model you would expect in a religious story, and yet, Jesus uses him, he has the audacity to use him to teach us a lesson in life. It is a lesson in stewardship – managing the assets that we have in life.
Please read the story in its entirety. It is found in the first 12 verses of the 16th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel. There are many dimensions to it. Today we will focus on the concept of managing our tangible assets.
We live in a world that is filled with real challenges. Reality is not based on or built on fairy tales or myths. Unlike playtime, life is demanding. It asks for our resources, the most precious of which is our time and effort – blood, sweat and tears. The question then becomes, how do we deal with, approach and overcome those challenges?
Jesus tells us that the challenges of life are real. They are to be met and overcome. The resources to do so are in place and need to be used. In his words, we are called to use “worldly wealth” to network and deal with the people of this world. In other words, in this world we must use the tools that this world offers, that is the “legal tender” of this world. Don’t shun those tools by ascribing some definitions based on your moral compass. Don’t pretend that you exist in some other world that is apart from the one we inhabit. This world is very real. We need to use the means of this world to survive this world. What are those means? Our talents. The talents given to us by God.
We began this Lenten Journey by taking an inventory of the things that are essential and necessary for our lives. Today, on this 21st day of Lent, the exercise is to inventory the gifts of God in our lives. What talents do we possess? How can we use them? How can we improve our own lives, as well as the lives of our families, friends and community by the use of those talents? God has given us the resources that we need to deal with life. He has given us the ability, the strength and the courage to move forward. He has given us breath! He has also endowed us with talents. Do you sing or play music? Are you able to craft something? Do you have reasoning and logical skills? Can you invest? Can you make money? Can you heal? Can you console? Can you walk in harmony with others? These are gifts from God.
Jesus says, “He who has been faithful in a little, will be trusted with much.” Take your talent and create! Invest it and make more, whatever your talent may be. Today is the day to examine those gifts you have. You are coming into a world that has so many problems and difficulties. It needs the presence of God today. Not yesterday and not tomorrow. Today. And as an ambassador of God, that is, an ambassador of Love, you now have a responsibility to use your talents wisely to bring the presence of God into your own life as well as the lives of the people around you – your family, friends and ultimately, the world. Furthermore, you do not have a right to ignore your gifts and talents. You are the manager of your life. You must use what has been given you.
In the next few days we will be looking at the models of stewardship. We will look at our talents and understand how we are stewards of our life. How can we take those things that God has given us, and multiply them to really enjoy our life as we fill it with meaning and purpose? How can we touch the lives of others with those talents?
Uncreated Essence, I have sinned against You in mind, soul and body; do not remember my former sins for the sake of Your Holy name. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner. (I Confess with Faith 6/24)