As I travel around Central Texas speaking about stewardship, I always seem to get the same response – “I don’t get this stewardship thing!” Stewardship seems to be a very difficult concept for many people. Perhaps it is because we get caught up in the notion that stewardship is only about money and getting more volunteers for the Church. Perhaps we are not doing a good job of educating our parishioners about the real meaning of stewardship. Whatever the reason, a complete and total commitment to stewardship is difficult and challenging for any Christian.
However challenging stewardship is all of us share in one vocation—to be a disciple of Jesus. It is through our discipleship that our stewardship comes alive. Actually, in my opinion, stewardship has very little to do with time, talent and treasure. In reality, stewardship is an outgrowth of a true conversion toward Christ. Stewardship is built upon a close, intimate and personal relationship with Jesus through prayer. It is this relationship with Jesus that allows us to grow closer to our parish communities through the generous sharing of our gifts.
According to the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, “stewards of God’s gifts are not passive beneficiaries.” We are all called to share in God’s plan for redemption, not only for ourselves but for others. We are also obligated to be good stewards of the Church. We share in the redemptive work of Jesus. We share in the mission of teaching and serving. We have a personal responsibility to our parish and our local Church, the diocese.
As members of the Church, the Body of Christ, we each have our own roles. As parents, we have an obligation to nurture and support our children and to teach them about the faith. As parishioners, we need to find ways to live out our faith in our parish communities. As Catholics, we give generously – time, money, prayers and service – to our parishes, schools and diocesan communities. Our responsibility is clear – to continue the mission of Jesus. Our roles clearly define how we can make difference.
Living our lives as Christian stewards is not easy. It does get easier though as we become closer to Jesus and live out our lives in imitation of his. Those who seek to live their lives as stewards know that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). Our love of Jesus helps us to understand our responsibilities more clearly. It makes it easier for us to volunteer our time to serve as a lector or to coordinate a ministry in our parish. It makes it easier to financially support our parish and diocese. It makes it easier to spend one hour in prayer with Jesus during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
The question then becomes, “Are we ready to be disciples of Jesus and to commit ourselves to living as a Christian steward?” If we are, then we recognize that each of us has gifts to share and those gifts come from a good and gracious God. God empowers us to use those gifts wisely and to share them freely. Jesus shows us the way and stewardship is a part of that journey.