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Noblesse Oblige

Homily for Wednesday of the 29th Week in Ordinary Time

There is a French phrase that has a similar ring to it as the last words of today’s passage from the Gospel of St. Luke: noblesse oblige. In English, these two words simply mean that nobility carries with it social responsibilities. Jesus puts it this way: Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.”

Nobility is passed on through birth into a noble family. However, St. Paul tells us that we are we have been placed under the power of grace. Our nobility is the nobility of being the daughters and sons of God in Jesus Christ. However, just as royalty comes with obligations, so too grace comes with responsibilities.

In the Gospel Jesus asks a question: “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward?” To answer this question, we must first understand what being a steward entails. Stewards are people who have been placed in authority over material or spiritual gifts. The word itself implies that something has been given to us.

Stewards are called upon to be faithful. In other words, a good steward realizes that the material or spiritual gifts which he or she has been given are not his or hers. They belong to the Master. In the case of the Christian, Jesus is that master.

Stewards are also called upon to be prudent. Wasting the Master’s gifts would have no place in the life of the Christians steward. The prudent steward is the one who uses the Master’s gifts wisely and diligently. The gifts were not meant to be stored up and hoarded. A prudent steward distributes the gifts received from the Master to those in need.

Each of us has been given so much, grace upon grace. From time to time, it is good for Christian stewards to stop and consider the riches with which all of us have been blessed. What did we do to deserve the many gifts of grace? The faithful and prudent steward is the one who realizes that we have been blessed by love, not because of our worthiness. We ask God for a further grace to complement those we have already received; namely, the grace of being a faithful and prudent steward.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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