“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time” (Mt 24:45)?
Jesus is calling us to be that “faithful and prudent steward” and the household we are to serve is our own homes, churches, communities, states, countries, and world. For the world is our home and those we serve are our brothers and sisters. Jesus’ call is a universal call to solidarity. We are all invited to be united in this effort for and with one another because we are all created in the same image and likeness of our loving God and Father.
God has created us, not as automatons or robots, or drone worker bees. He has created us as unique persons, one of a kind, distinct wonders that have never been nor will ever be again. Within our uniqueness, there is also the gift of diversity. We are not intended to be separate from one another, for God has created all of us to be interconnected, to be loved, and to love. What affects one, affects all.
Jesus clearly emphasizes this distinction in his parable, often called the Judgment of the Nations, when he stated: “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25: 37-40).
Being faithful and prudent stewards means being aware of and willing to attend to the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, those ill, and/or imprisoned, as well as so many others in need. How do we even begin to address the tremendous number of people who are hurting especially during this time of pandemic? First and foremost, we need to resist being limited by numbers, but instead meet and engage with one person at a time. We are to resist judging someone as other but instead see a brother or sister. It is helpful to also resist tribalism and nationalism, and reach out to fellow human beings in Jesus’ distressing disguises. We also need to be more aware of our prejudices regarding ethnicity, race, gender, and/or religion and instead see people in need.
Not all of us will be moved in the same way or for the same cause, but let us be open to God who will guide us regarding how and who best we can serve, help, reach out, and give of ourselves to others. When we have the humility to admit to and confess our prejudices, intolerance, or biases, where we have been unaware or indifferent, God can heal and transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.
As we are forgiven and begin to heal, as we experience the love and mercy of Jesus, we can draw strength from him, begin to see the dignity present in one another, begin to see each person we encounter as God sees them and begin to take steps to accompany and love one another. We will be faithful and prudent stewards when we are willing to respect the dignity of each person we meet, in thought, word, and deed.
Photo: Participating in our first Hunger Challenge collaborative with St Peter and Cross Catholic Outreach a few years ago.