Servant and Steward is my personal web log. I am a priest of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and currently pursuing a licentiate in canon law (J.C.L.) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
Here you will find my homilies, thoughts, and many other things of interest to me; I hope they will also be of interest to you.
The title of this blog - Servant and Steward - comes from the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. He writes to them, "Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (4:1).
To speak of himself as a “servant of Christ” is somewhat obvious; it means that Paul’s life is no longer his own, but is now directed to the will of Jesus Christ. To understand Saint Paul as a servant is easy enough, but what of a steward?
Many of us are perhaps best familiar with the role of a steward through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Denethor, the Steward of Gondor. A steward governs in the absence of a king. The kingdom he governs is not his own; he is but a caretaker until the king returns. His authority is not own, but comes from the express will of the king. So it is with Paul; he is a “steward of the mysteries of God.”
These are no simple mysteries with which he is entrusted. He is no Poirot, Sherlock, or Matlock seeking to answer a difficult question. These mysteries he holds are far more profound and important. When he called them “mysteries” Paul used a Greek word coming from the root muo, meaning “to close the mouth.” These mysteries, when understood for what they are, leave one filled with love, wonder and awe and leave one all but speechless before such tremendous love given so freely to us.
When writing in Latin, Tertullian used the word sacramentum to refer to these mysteries. It was a word borrowed from the legions of Rome which referred to the oath taken by the legionaries and the tattoo they received. In taking the oath, a man gave his life to the Empire and to the emperor and was marked by his oath. So it with us and the sacraments – the mysteries – of God.
In the sacraments we stand in awe of the divine life we receive through them and belong to Christ. Through the sacraments we share in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ; through them we are bound to God.
Saint Paul, then, is a steward of the sacraments of Christ, which he entrusted to the Church to give us his divine life. Paul was “found trustworthy” in his office and is thus a model for every priest because every priest is a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God (I Corinthians 4:2). I hope, at the end of my life, to be found to be the same.
* The views expressed on this website are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.