33rd S. 2021: Basic Principles

Today’s homily is for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary time, Nov. 14, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video can be viewed by clicking here soon.

Our family was at a Crossfit competition in Hollister yesterday (My son, Luke, hoping to be the next Crossfit superstar.) I’ve only just started to compete, so yesterday was my first one. I did okay–my only consolation was that 7 (as in 7th place) is a holy number! I’m still quite out of shape, I need to eat better, and certainly need to exercise some more. To be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for the competition–but I really should have been, or could have been. I registered, I knew when it was, I knew all the exercises I would have to do…and even still I wasn’t prepared. And that’s concerning to me. I need to take my health and fitness a lot more seriously if I’m going to win. 

Today’s readings sound like impending doom, don’t they! Daniel starts with, “In those days it shall be a time unsurpassed in distress,” and the Gospel we hear, “”In those days after that tribulation the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Of course, this sounds like impending doom, horrible news for everyone. But if we look closely, it is not. In both cases, there is a silver lining. In both cases, God’s faithful people will be saved. 

Daniel says, “But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.” And Jesus tells us, “he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” In other words, the final time will bring swift justice to all people–God’s protection and care for the wise, and God’s condemnation for the wicked. And this truth makes me a bit nervous, if I’m being honest. 

In the parable of the faithful and unfaithful steward in Luke 12, the master has gone away and has put his stewards in charge of his property and his people. The stewards knew the master would return, but were living foolishly, even irresponsibly, when he did, and they were severely punished. The Lord, our master, has made each of us a steward of the gifts he has prepared for all his people. And we know too, that the master will return and demand an accounting of the quality of our stewardship–have we been faithful, diligent, hard working, and disciplined with the Lord’s goods? I haven’t even been faithful to the upkeep of God’s holy temple–my body, which yesterday’s Crossfit competition made clear. 

I knew when the competition was. I signed up for it. I knew the date, but I did not prepare as I should have done. Jesus says to his disciples, “Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near.” This isn’t hard to figure out. Our Lord has not kept his return a secret…in fact, it’s the opposite. He tells us quite plainly–he will return, and the foolish will not be ready. The foolish will become complacent, they will stop praying, stop making Sunday a priority, they will become increasingly selfish, and their love for their neighbors will grow cold. They will live as though there will not be a reckoning…but there will be. There will be an accounting. There will be justice, where the work of each steward will be revealed. 

I drink too much Scotch and I eat too much chocolate, and I don’t work out enough. I was not prepared for yesterday’s competition. You should have seen the guy who won. He was amazing. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t eat sugar, and seriously works out. He’s serious about Crossfit. And we should be serious about Christian stewardship because more on the line than a trophy, the consequences are eternal. 

But being a Christian steward means more than just being generous with our time, talent, and treasure. The U.S. Bishops teach, “As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.” I need to evaluate my fitness, but I also need to evaluate my stewardship. I don’t know that I’m cultivating and sharing God’s gifts enough with others. I feel like I’m squandering those gifts too often and our Lord expects an increase. I’ve got work to do, maybe you do too.

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