May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word…May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:16 - 17, 3:5
My Dear Friends in Christ,
What a beautiful prayer Saint Paul offers in our second reading. Paul directs us first to remember the love God has for us, a love that offers us encouragement and hope, encouragement and strength. Then Paul calls us to share that love with others, making our every deed and word “good,” not in the banal sense we use that word today but in the same love of God and the endurance of Christ who loved us to the point of the Cross.
These are inspiriting words for us and the perfect beginning as we start our annual focus on stewardship. Stewardship isn’t just about money; it’s way of life; it’s a good one. In fact, it’s a better way of life because stewardship simply means belonging to God, allowing God to rule our lives. God transforms us as we entrust our lives and our resources. We give God temporary money and God gives us eternal treasure. Putting God in charge of everything, including our time and our money sounds threatening – surrendering control does not come easily to any of us - but God is good at ruling people’s lives. If we do belong to God, if we really do put God in charge, we’ll be better off, more secure and happier.
It’s the point Jesus is making in our Gospel today. The Sadducees, who as the Gospel makes clear don’t even believe in resurrection, are just trying to trick Jesus, to prove that they are right. They’re focused on something other than God, something other than living with God and Jesus wants it to be clear so that they can shift their focus. He’s more interested in their salvation than in minor points of theology. So Jesus makes it clear: to be with God is to be truly alive, fully alive. Without God, it doesn’t add up. With God, all are alive. That’s not just in heaven but here and now.
Your homework this week is think about where your relationship with God is and whether your giving reflects what you want and hope for that relationship. Take a look at our stewardship card and use it as a catalyst to see where God is calling you. As Saint Paul reminds us, the foundation of our giving comes in God’s generosity and in the invitation God offers for us to share that generosity of life and love. When we recognize God’s generosity and accept the invitation to share those blessings, God creates blessings for others as well as additional blessings for those who give. God’s invitation is also a call to sacrifice, to submit to something, or I should say, Someone greater, persevering and encouraging one another as God seeks to bring forth from us every good work and word.
Know of my thoughts and prayers for you. May God bless you with everlasting encouragement and good hope directing your hearts to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.