My name is Fr. Joseph Illo, your new pastor. Fr. Driscoll and I hope to continue the good work of Fr. Mazza and the faithful laity at Star of the Sea, and I am deeply grateful to him for solidly establishing the Latin Mass here. Please pray that we may work faithfully and diligently in accomplishing God’s will at this beautiful parish, dedicated to the mother of his Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. I myself was baptized at Star of the Sea parish in New York City in 1961, and now I return to Our Lady, Star of the Sea, on another coast.
Jesus describes a “steward” in today’s Gospel, someone who manages another man’s wealth and property. St. Paul writes (1 Cor 4:2) that it is required of a steward that he be faithful, but this steward is unfaithful and loses his job. If your office manager is unfaithful, he cannot remain your office manager. On a more personal level, imagine lending your brand new BMW to a friend for his road trip to Chicago. You would want him to treat your automobile as if it were his own. Well, the Good God has lent us something infinitely more precious than a new car. He has lent us our lives: our bodies, our minds, and our immortal souls. We do not own our lives, or anything else. The car you drive, the house you live in, the education you’ve achieved, even your own body—all has come from God and all is returning to him. The fact is, we are stewards, now owners, and God will require a full account of our stewardship. If He finds that we have “squandered” his property, he will take back what is His. St. Paul writes in the Epistle that we are not “debtors” to the flesh—our flesh does not own us, but neither do we own our flesh. God owns both, and if we squander what is His, we will lose the lives God has lent us. Most of our neighbors in post-Christian America unthinkingly live as if they owned their own bodies, and their bodies end up owning them, slaves and debtors to their own flesh. We Christians must witness to the fact that our bodies are not our own.
I remember the tag line first used by the pro-abortion lobby in the mid-70s, when I was a high school student. “It’s my body, and I’ll do what I want with it.” First of all, the unborn child is not the mother’s body, but a genetically distinct individual, even though they come from their mothers and depend on them. But even if the fetus were just an appendage of the mother, she does not own herself anyway. Her body, and her soul, are on loan from God.
All around us people are squandering their bodies and souls, as if they were theirs to waste. This city is famous for playing with human bodies as if they were toys, but I think there are many more sensible people in San Francisco than not. We all know that God is not mocked. Everyone, even the demons, serve Him, either willingly or unwillingly. Even should we prove to be bad stewards, we are all still stewards, for we are not owners. I’ve never seen a dying person holding on to the illusion he owned his own life. Our lives will be taken back someday, and it is for that day that we are preparing a “full account of our stewardship.” We must be prudent, for which the Master commended his dishonest ex-steward, but above all we must be faithful.
Our Lady, the virgin most prudent, is also the virgin most faithful and mother of grace. If we want to be not just prudent stewards, but faithful stewards; if we want to become saints, we must have daily recourse to her in the holy rosary and other devotions. I am so happy to be at a parish named for Our Lady, Stella Maris. May we entrust our life’s pilgrimage to her, God’s own mother, the Star of the Sea guiding us across the waters of this life to our true home in heaven.