Jesus encounters one of the scribes, one of the experts in the Mosaic Law. In the past number of weeks, these encounters have not gone well. The Pharisees and the scribes were often trying to trap Jesus, to embarrass him, to ridicule him and to turn the people against him.
Not so this time. This encounter is different. The question seemed more genuine and the scribe’s response respectful, acknowledging the profundity of Jesus’ teaching. “And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, Jesus said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’”
“He answered with understanding.” The definition of understand is to know the meaning of; grasp the idea of; to comprehend; to appreciate.
There are number of spiritual writers who when they speak of understanding God’s will or God’s plan, speak of “standing under” in order to understand. By this they mean that God is greater than our human ability to fathom or to grasp the full meaning of our lives and God’s presence and action in our lives. Therefore we stand under our creator’s plan in awe and wonder.
“To stand under in order to understand.” While on pilgrimage these past weeks, we did a lot of “standing under.” We stood under these amazingly sculpted tympanies – that is, hug entranceways that funneled the faithful into the immensity and the beauty of the Gothic cathedrals.
Once inside, we found ourselves standing under a verticality that lifted our eyes to heaven. We stood under immensity of stone so weighty yet so delicate that all we could do was marvel. We stood under beautiful, soaring stained glass windows telling biblical stories, bringing them to life.
Yes, we stood under much beauty which helped us to understand more deeply God’s immense plan, helping us to understand just a bit more Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God.
While experiencing such awe and beauty, I came to a deeper understanding of both the power of and the call to Christian stewardship. I realized a new that to truly understand stewardship one must “stand under” these words: all is gift. All is gift from a good and gracious and loving God.
Everything – my time, talents and every treasure I have ever received is all gift. It has all been entrusted to me to be received gratefully, and to share with increase and justice for the sake of building up the kingdom of God here on earth.
Standing in the beauty of the handiwork of so many for the glory and honor of God, these 12th and 13th century gothic cathedrals that have been and continue to be used as holy places to worship God in sacred liturgy and in the celebration of the sacraments, often left me speechless.
I believe this is an essential element of stewardship. Stewardship is a disciple’s response, a personal response to the call of God to recognize that all is gift and in recognition to experience joy, wonder, peace, and blessings beyond imagining.
Our human thinking is often that when we give up and give away something – our time, our service or our money, we have less. Yet stewardship in the kingdom of God helps us to realize that it is in the very act of sharing that we become more like God and the person God has created us to be. We become more fulfilled rather than less.
I’m so humbled by this gift of understanding that the Lord generously shared with me on this pilgrimage.
So here is another gift. Let us watch now how Deborah and Chris Graver have personally experienced stewardship in their lives.