I would like us to reflect on 2 points based on today’s Scripture Readings.
The 1st point is found in these beautiful and powerful words from the Responsorial Psalm: “Surely, God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might”. The message is that, regardless of these unprecedented times, we are called to have great confidence and trust in God’s plan for our lives.
Why? As Pope Francis implied in his latest encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti”, we are neither the absolute masters of all that exists nor of our own lives. But, God is always in control. As such, he is stronger than and more powerful than any trial or adversity.
Once we accept that God is in charge, the logical response is to give ourselves over completely to God. We are not afraid to surrender ourselves and our lives totally and unconditionally into the arms of this God. We commend our entire selves (our health, our families, our relationships, our finances, our challenges, our hardships, every aspect of our lives) to God’s loving care and concern. He will give us the courage and strength to deal with whatever comes. In this way, God truly becomes the center of our lives. What a wonderful reminder this is for us as we journey through a pandemic.
The 2nd point comes from the 1st Reading: “Of this Gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power”. By a special blessing, by a special grace, Paul became the servant of the Gospel in the 1st century. By virtue of our Baptism, the same has happened to us. We, too, have been given a special blessing, a special grace, so that we may become servants of the Gospel in the 21st century.
Practically speaking, this means that, in the face of challenges and struggles during a pandemic, we rely on the values of the Gospel to influence what we think, what we say and what we do. I would like to reflect on the parable from today’s Gospel in order to illustrate how the Gospel ought to affect our thoughts, words and actions.
Jesus tells the parable of the faithful and prudent manager who kept working diligently and conscientiously until his master returned unexpectedly. “Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives”. The point of the parable is that we must prepare and be ready for the end of our lives by remaining firm and steadfast in our commitment to the values of the Gospel.
I love the card that Fr. Sharpe had printed as a memento of his 60th anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood. The front of the card has a passage from the Book of Revelation: “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life”. God is faithful unto death to us. That’s all he wants in return – for us to be faithful unto death to him.
Prior to his death in his 90’s, Fr. Sharpe was a resident in a long-term care facility in Sudbury. Nonetheless, he still found joy in his priesthood, and he still lived his priesthood to the best of his ability in the circumstances in which he found himself: visiting other residents, praying with them and blessing them. Despite his declining health and the frailty of old age, Fr. Sharpe walked the hallways of this facility with his walker and ministered to the needs of others.
Therefore, the point for us is, regardless of our state in life – single, priest, married, separated, divorced, widowed – to hang in there, to be unwavering and constant in our faith.
To be a servant of the Gospel in 2020 is to be loyal to our faith even in the midst of great obstacles and hardships. To be a servant of the Gospel is to keep Christ and his way of being at the very center of our lives in good times and in bad, when it is convenient and inconvenient, in sickness and in health until the very end.
As our Eucharist continues, let us offer 2 prayers to God. First, although we are preoccupied by so many fears and uncertainties, let us ask God for the grace to submit ourselves totally to him. “Surely, God is my salvation; I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might”.
Second, as Christians, the Gospel ought to play a key role in our lives. So, let us ask God to help us to be like the faithful and wise servant of the parable – to persevere in our commitment to God until death. “Of this Gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power”.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
October 21, 2020