Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel Oliver Twist depicts the lives and struggles of two very peculiar characters. Oliver and Nancy are both kids, orphans thrown into the chaos of human misery and misfortune, homelessness and poverty. They have absolutely nothing – no power, no position, no money, no relatives or friends. But they were not helpless because they had each other, which was enough to make a real difference. Somehow they managed to find and connect with each other, hold onto each other, look after, care for and protect each other.
Too often, we assume that to make a real and tangible difference in this world and in someone’s life, we need power, money, influence, and connections. And that is not what we believe in and it is not what our faith teaches us. Instead, we believe in the power of love, friendship and healing presence in someone’s life. We believe that every act of human kindness, mercy, charity and compassion, no matter how small or big, transforms the world. We believe that the big divine miracles are often built on the foundation and forged from small acts of human kindness and sacrificial love.
Last Sunday, we read the parable of the Prodigal Son and saw how the younger son’s unwise and self-centered use of his wealth, the pursuit of status and prestige led him to lose everything he had, including the most important people in his life. In today’s Scripture reading, we hear about a steward, who did the exact opposite. He used the resources entrusted to his care to build relationships and enhance friendships.
The parable of the steward reminds us to view our lives and treat every moment of our lives, every encounter, every conversation, past, present or future relationships as precious and divine gifts. Furthermore, it is a reminder that everything received from God is meant to be shared. Our time, talents and abilities are meant to be nurtured and transformed into opportunities for healing someone’s pain, helping someone in need. In fact, the only way for us to grow and mature in our faith, discover our true identity, calling and role in life is by starting to share and mirror our God-given gifts and abilities.
There is a secret and sacred spiritual ladder in each and every life that can lead to heaven and God. Every person in our life, every relationship and every encounter is a single stepping stone of that ladder. By transforming our lives and becoming a healing and uplifting spiritual presence for those people, we, in fact, are drawing near the very presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.