What, then, are we called to do? The bigger picture of stewardship, what is it? Many of us have blinders on when we think about stewardship. We limit our vision to just the financial implications of the word, it is much more than that, to truly have a full vision we have to include the giving of our time and talents.
One who practices good stewardship accepts a complete lifestyle in which God is honored as the creator and provider of all things, and the example of Jesus becomes one’s daily, guiding light. As good stewards, we embrace the mission of collaborating with God in the ongoing work of creation and redemption. Too, we do not only receive God’s gifts gratefully, but also strive to practice responsible management of them. That means we nurture them, increase them, share them, use them to benefit humankind and to actively seek to spread the Kingdom of God on earth. In all this, God truly becomes our first priority. Isn’t it wonderful to think that we, as individuals and as church, can be partners in God’s plan?
In 1992, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops published what many believe can be for all of us a life-changing pastoral letter called Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. “Refracted through the prisms of countless individual vocations,” the document explains, “this way of life embodies and expresses the one mission of Christ: to do God’s will, to proclaim the Good News of salvation, to heal the afflicted, to care for one’s sisters and brothers, to give life -- life to the full -- as Jesus did.”
Sometimes people who hear about “stewardship” think it is but “another way to talk about giving money to the church.” The church does need financial help to achieve our Christian mission, to be sure, but giving money is certainly not all we as Christians are striving for as good stewards. Stewardship is much, much more.
Are we properly caring for our bodies, our prayer lives, those lives entrusted to us for nurturing? Are we continuing to expand our minds through new learning and experiences? Are we doing our jobs as well as we can? Are we constructive and collaborative in our relationships with others? Can we give time to those we love and who need us? Can we give it as volunteers to those strangers who are hurting, those young people who are learning about their faith, those parish activities that need our attention? Do we have a skill we might give pro bono to our larger community, our churches, the many agencies that seek in their own way to better our world for all? Do we fully participate in the Eucharist and share our faith with others, especially our children? And, yes, do we have treasure that we are willing to share to help others?
Are we willing to invest in God?
None of this is easy. We are human and we are part of a society in which acquiring possessions, skills and luxuries are woven into our culture. It defines “the American Dream.” And let us be clear: Success is neither something to be avoided nor somehow wrong in God’s eyes. Wrong occurs in failing to acknowledge that all we have and hold dear is from God, in squandering this bounty through indifference or narcissism, in forgetting others who are also God’s children, in failing to give back to God all we have received and more. Let us pray that we all can be better stewards of God’s bounty.
Let us continue to pray for peace and for end of terrorism in our world!
In peace and courage,