Father Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: Stewardship

FR MICHAEL BOAKYE YEBOAH

CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF KUMASI, GHANA

STEWARDSHIP

            Stewardship is central in today’s second and gospel passages. The two share direct effects on the first reading. While the author to the second reading requested prayers for kings and those in leadership, Jesus uses the life and “professional” duties of a shrewd steward to inform us on how children of the world shrewdly conduct their administrative affairs. Kings and leaders need our prayers else they will act like the steward in today’s gospel passage. Bad stewardship has direct bad effects on the needy and the poor as Amos rightly tells us in today’s first reading.

            As I reflected on today’s gospel passage, I went through that sacred exercise with a heavy heart of pain because this is the story of many leaders/stewards in Africa and elsewhere. Arguably Africa is the most blessed land when you talk of natural resources. We are blessed with gold, diamond, bauxite, and other precious minerals. Our land is so fertile that whatever you put on the ground grows. The King of Kings, our Almighty Father gave us our share of the treasures he blessed the world with when He created heaven and earth. Like the king in today’s gospel he was good enough to make provision for goods and food items to serve his household and the town that he ruled but the problem was the stewards who served in his stead. One of the stewards did not only mismanaged the king’s goods but he was colluding with the king’s debtors to rob him of his earnings.

            The stewards we have had in most places in Africa have been our biggest challenge towards elevating poverty in Africa. The situation can be likened to the famous words of the German philosopher Hegel. He said: “we have found the enemy and it is us.” Some politicians came into politics as beggars and ordinary folks but give them two years to a decade in power then they will be swimming in wealth. If these politicians were content with their monthly stipends and administrative allowances and went ahead and pocketed them, then no one would have issues with them. They are free to share with people from their areas but if they do not, then it is not a crime and no one can blame them. But if money allocated for building hospitals, schools, and providing other social amenities for poor neighborhoods are stolen by these stewards, then we will have issues with them and petition our Father in heaven to act on behalf of the poor as Amos rightly did in his day. We will not keep quiet for we are prophets.

            As some political stewards have not live up to expectations, the stories of some religious stewards are shameful to say the least. Are priests and those who occupy religious stewardship positions proud of the scandalous stories about their ministry? The people that Amos addressed as the cause of the problems of the poor and needy were not only the civil leaders of his day but the priests and prophets who were supposed to know better. In our day the way that some men of God use all kinds of biblical quotations to milk the poor is shameful. People struggle to feed their families but a “fake’ man of God will use all kinds of means to rob him/her of his/her resources.

With all these things happening in society and in the church, I would like to join my voice to that of St. Paul when the Apostle counseled the young presbyter Timothy with these words: “Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity…”

            As we pray for our leaders who serve as stewards of our natural resources and treasures, let us try in our little way to provide for the needs of the poor. I am particularly committed in the care of the physically challenged and orphans in our society. If you get any opportunity to care for the poor please do offer help because we are the hands of God on earth feeding the poor.

            To my dear Christian brothers and sisters who serve in different capacities as stewards, we should note that stewardship is an ethical value that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources and persons. For example, as I serve in the seminary as a formator, I know that God has set me as a steward over the seminarians. If I perform my duties wrongfully or “any how”, I know one day I will be answerable to my maker when I return to give account of my stewardship. Stewardship like my own informed me to reflect with you last week on cura animarum. Priests are meant to care for souls and not to milk them in diverse ways. Also to you my lay brothers and sisters who work as civil servants, you are meant to serve humanity and not enrich yourselves at their expense. Let somebody tell some of the rich thieves in our churches, who come with their big donations, that some of us are not interested in their blood tainted monies (they have robbed the poor for). Do not steal from the poor and our national common purse and bring to the church as your tithe. Like Amos, I would like to warn you that the poor are crying to God… and remember God has ears. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP PRAY FOR US.

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