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Saturday, August 29, 2015

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Beheading of
St. John the Baptizer


1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
Psalm 98:1, 7-9
Matthew 25:14-30
or Mark 6:17-29

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the slave trade?

"He called in his servants and handed his funds over to them according to each man's abilities." —Matthew 25:14

Today's Gospel reading is often used to bring up the theme of stewardship, which is supposedly giving our "time, treasures, and talents" to the Lord and His Church. This is a rather tame idea of stewardship compared to the Biblical concept.

First of all, today's Gospel reading is about three slaves, not servants. ("Servants" is a watered-down translation.) Slaves don't just give their time, treasure, and talents to their owners; they give their whole lives and give up their freedom as well.

Moreover, if you don't participate in your parish's stewardship program, should you be thrown into the darkness outside where you can wail and grind your teeth? (Mt 25:30) That would seem excessive, but it makes more sense in the Biblical context of slavery, total commitment, and abandonment of our wills to God.

Maybe we should have "Slavery Sunday" instead of "Stewardship Sunday." "You are the slaves of the one you obey, whether yours is the slavery of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to justice" (Rm 6:16). "Be slaves of Christ the Lord" (Col 3:24).

Prayer:  Father, I will serve You with abandon and not be duped into slavery to the world.

Promise:  "We exhort you to even greater progress." —1 Thes 4:10

Praise:  St. John the Baptizer was such a powerful preacher that King Herod feared him even when he was in prison (Mk 6:20).

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape Jesus, the Redeemer on audio AV 50-3 or video V-50.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 18, 2015

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