August 13, 2019
In the parable offered this Sunday, being honest, generous, reliable, humble, persistent, and alert are qualities Jesus encourages his followers appropriate if they want to be among those whom the Father is pleased to give the kingdom to. This would have been the kingdom that was foretold by prophets, imagined by visionaries, and embraced by faithful Jewish people for many generations. It was truly the fulfillment of their deepest longings and, if lost, it became the source of their greatest disappointments and fears. To hear that God is pleased to give them this great gift would have meant the world to them. But in order to receive it they were being asked to give up the world they knew. Jesus constantly challenged them to give away all of their excess material possessions and even some necessities. Why? Perhaps it was to help them see how attached they were to what they accumulated for themselves and their friends and families? Perhaps it was to grow in relationship with God and their neighbour through the act of giving alms and becoming needy themselves? Or, maybe it was because they saw themselves as unworthy of God's desires for them? We may never know for sure but we can be assured that the "free flowing" of resources was a necessity for anyone seeking to enter God's kingdom.
In our own lives, human nature can make things difficult for us to share and empty ourselves of anything. Worrying about tomorrow, insisting on being self-sufficient, living up to expectations from others, amassing wealth and status to prove something to ourselves, judging for ourselves what others do and do not deserve, are all nagging temptations that never seem to go away. Jesus reveals to us all that it is precisely in the giving that we become more connected to God's kingdom and our deepest longings. That the most profound and memorable experiences are those where we gave and expected nothing in return. Where in our discontent for life's inadequacies we were challenged to reach out and, in so doing, discovered that we were not entitled to what we had after all. Instead, we were gifted with a resource from God that was meant to be enjoyed and shared. This way of perceiving ourselves, God, and the world is as important today as ever. We seem to be facing one crisis after another when it comes to the scarcity of loving relationships, and of the Earth's resouces. We still live in a large gap between those who have in abundance and those who are starved for food, shelter, water, the beauty of creation, and a love that expects nothing in return.
Jesus reminds us this Sunday that the call to share is bad news for those who see this call as a threat to their pampered lifestyle. But to those who take heed to his words and become good stewards there can be no better news. For the Father is pleased to give them the kingdom. May we all continue to seek to be good stewards though the generous ways we can receive and offer the love, resources, and creativity God blesses us with.