Maryknoll Lay Missioner Flávio José Rocha in Brazil reflects on Jesus' teaching to be just and generous stewards of all that God has given to us.
Brothers and sisters, although the Gospel reading from Luke covers many aspects of our relationship with material things, especially money, I will focus on the first part in which the steward is questioned for wasting his master’s goods.
I want to invite you to imagine that God is knocking at your door. You open it and after feeling astonished with the unexpected guest, you let the visitor in. God hugs and kisses you in the gentlest way that you can imagine. You invite God to sit down because you know this is not a random visit and you are curious about what motivates God to come to your house.
God then starts telling you that there is some talk in town that you are not taking care of things as you should and, because of that, you must write a report about your work. You know that you are in trouble because, if you are fired, it will not be easy to find another boss with such a generous heart and a job that gives you such freedom to take advantage of everything in the office for free.
You might offer excuses for your bad behavior, saying things like “You know, God, life on Earth is not easy and I want to give the best to myself and my family and that is why I took as much as I did.” God might simply respond, “You could have taken enough for you and your family without creating such a mess.”
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Frances begins, “In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”
But then he continues, “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”
In my view, taking care of God´s creation doesn’t mean living an uncomfortable life, but rather it means managing well what is so generously offered by our Mother Earth. We have the technology and the knowledge to do so, yet we continue our destructive ways.
Instead of guardians, some people label themselves as owners of God´s creation. The manipulation of seeds, pollution of rivers and oceans and devastation of forests for different plantations show that very clearly. Being smart like the steward in the Gospel story will not help any of us avoid being held accountable for our responsibility to care for creation for future generations.
God comes to our door every day, speaking to us through our children, the citizens of the future. May our children never hear it said that we were bad stewards of the common good that belongs to all of us.
Photo: Flávio José Rocha has been serving with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners in Brazil since 2003. Photo courtesy of the Maryknoll Lay Missioners.