Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
I believe all of us have somehow experienced having privileges in relationship, in work, in the office or at least in the family. One of the meanings that the dictionary gives us for the word privilege is that it is “a special treat or honor.” Usually we are proud of being treated with some privilege because it is “an advantage, a right or benefit that is not available to everyone.”
On the other hand, I also believe that at some time we have felt some sense of obligation to return a favor that comes from a sense of indebtedness to a person, family, or institution. In other words it is “the state of being under a debt, as of gratitude, for a favor, service, or benefit.”
St. Paul had a unique experience of being called by the Lord. On his way to persecute the Christians of Damascus, Paul was met by the Lord Jesus and was called to become a preacher of the Gospel and be the Apostle to the Gentiles. For this, he was gratefully indebted to the Lord. He saw his ministry of preaching the Gospel as an obligation and a privilege; an obligation, because the Gospel is life for the Children of God and he was saved from damnation; a privilege, because he was particularly called to be an apostle and to preach the Gospel to the whole world, especially to the gentiles.
Moreover, Paul saw his ministry of preaching the Gospel not only as an obligation and privilege, but also as a stewardship. Stewardship begins and ends with the understanding of God’s ownership of all. The Psalm proclaims,
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (24:1).
While stewardship can refer to our care and development of the world we live in and our obligation to be responsible for the development and support of the Church for her apostolate and ministries, it also refers to the use and development of our God-given talents, virtues and responsibilities for the good of our families and communities. In our 2nd reading today St. Paul tells us:
If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel (1Cor 9:17-18)…. and woe to me if I do not preach it! (1Cor 9: 16).
There was a boy who put an eagle egg with the eggs of a chicken until all eggs hatched. The eaglet grew with the chickens but did not know he was an eagle. One day the eagle felt some power within himself and felt that he did not really belong to the group of chicken. Then he saw an eagle flying above. He felt he could fly; and with success he was able to fly to the mountains.
We all have a power within ourselves, the power of soaring high in this world, the power to become children of God. Do we recognize that power given to us at baptism? Do we develop that power within us so that the Giver of life will not be disappointed? Do we dedicate that power to Him who can strengthen us more?
St. Paul encourages us to recognize the power of the Word of God in ourselves. The Word of God helps us to recognize and develop all the potential that we have to be real apostles of the Gospel: a) with our words, so that we can lead others to the Lord; b) with our actions and in our relationships, so that we can proclaim that God is present in our lives; c) with our hope, so that we can make this world a happy and lively place to live in and anticipate the second life without fear. In the Gospel Jesus gives us a clear example that prayer leads us to recognize and develop that power within ourselves, so that our relationships and ministry will be full of life.
The Eucharist is the food that gives us the power to live in faith, hope and love for the Lord. As we do not belong to this world but are citizens of Heaven, let us joyfully soar high and live as worthy children of God and heirs of His Kingdom.