Prepare to be heard

Homily of the month

A labor of love

God's outlandish love calls us to be stewards of that which God has made and makes still and will make until the end of time, including all the birds of the air and all the wild animals. Read PREPARE THE WORD's featured homily on stewardship by Brian Doyle.

PREPARE THE WORD's library includes insightful sample homilies for funerals, sacraments, holy and feast days, and special occasions. We regularly add new homilies to the mix. Feel free to submit a homily you've written or from someone on your parish preaching team that you want to offer for consideration. Send homilies to mail@preparetheword.com.

Occasion: Stewardship

WE USE THE WORD so easily, so flippantly, so casually: love. A word, like the word God, that has had its prickly wild edges rubbed off from such common and daily use over the long millennia that human beings have prowled the planet. Yet love, like God, is a thing of unimaginable complexity, a subject to spend a lifetime wondering at openmouthed; and God’s love, the extraordinary and mysterious force that drives all that is, demands far more response from us than the mere gratitude we offer on days when things are going well for us.

For real love, deep love, holy love, invites and intimates responsibility. It means care. It means stewardship. It means a fervent fomenting of growth. It means allowing that which you love to freely find its best self. It means no constraints and no expectations. It means flowering and joy. It means attention and attentiveness. It means, in short, all those aspects of love that God sings insistently to us, and that we are charged with reflecting, with all our verve and might, as long as we live. 

For real love, deep love, holy love, invites and intimates responsibility. It means care. It means stewardship.

That is, very simply, what we are about as Catholic Christians. Deluged and suffused with the love of God, a love so thorough and selfless and unyielding that God would offer God’s Son to bear and salve our sins, we become agents and messengers of that astonishing love, and our task is both simple and arduous: to love the Christ in every man and woman and child, to see and savor the throb of God’s love in everything that lives, to find and focus our own unique and extraordinary tools and talents on hunger and despair, poverty and illness, injustice and apathy. 

An easy task? Hardly. 

Nothing harder could be asked of us, really, than to love he who has injured us, to love she who has insulted us, to love that which grinds us to exhaustion, to love that vast creation that so often seems cold-hearted and cold-eyed, to rise again in the gray, cold, muddy morning and gird for battle with tragedy and violence and hopelessness. 

But to grapple relentlessly—that is love. 
To keep walking the suffering road—that is love. 
To refuse to surrender—that is love. 
To attend with respect to the smallest things, to do your work with care and energy, to let go of that which cannot be borne—that is love, too. 

God's outlandish love calls us to be stewards of that which God has made and makes still and will make until the end of time. All the birds of the air and all the wild animals, says Genesis, and accept the kingdom of God like a child, says Mark the Evangelist, and to serve, says Mark again, and that is what we do when we love cleanly and selflessly, we serve; and it is Mark again who tells us that to be great we must be the most relentless servants we can possibly be. 

Indeed it is by never resting that we will find rest in the light of the Lord. 

To be Catholic is very often truly to be countercultural—to stand against the tide of popular culture and shout powerfully Life! Life! Life! And lest we be narrow-minded and shallow-souled, our shouting means far more than keening the millions of unborn children murdered annually in the sweet salty seas of their mothers: It means we must shout that war is an evil because it broods death, and we must shout that economies that dismiss the poor as powerless are evils because they stunt and starve helpless children and the God-given dignity of their parents, and it means we must sing everything that lives, as the devout poet William Blake wrote: hawks and wrens, berries and beetles, policemen and postmistresses, swallows and sturgeon, children and colonels, teak and tigers—God made them all, and we do not have dominion over them, we are their brothers and cousins and sisters, we are blood of their blood and flesh of their flesh, we are seeds sown from the same hand and we return our husks there when our span is done. 

But along that way we must love with all our soul and all our might—hard work, yes, but joyous work, holy work, the only work.