I had never heard someone speak about a stewardship way of life back then. If I am honest, the primary message I heard in those days was along the lines of “We need to be as good as we are able.” Sacrifice was only at Lent, disciples were people in the Bible, and generosity mostly had to do with the collection basket and the poor box at the church entrance. I even went to Catholic schools!
When we take seriously our stewardship way of life, we see our lives as not truly belonging to ourselves. We want to offer our very existence to God and the Body of Christ. Let us pray that enough of us will choose the holy way so all the world may see that God is real, Jesus is alive, and we are ONE.
We were created for community. Human beings are not meant to be alone. As each of us grows in our relationship with Jesus, we find ourselves drawn further into community. The fruits that result from my stewardship and your stewardship will never amount to more than what we can produce together.
Through our stewardship, we allow our parish community to shine like a city on a hill for others to see and then be drawn toward Jesus Christ. It is about leading people to heaven. Our actions of stewardship do not point toward us but instead to the one who calls us to this life.
As Christians, we can find ourselves hiding behind our words. The world will only know whom it is we serve if we love like Jesus, we act like Jesus, and we serve others like Jesus. Our love should be an instrument of our evangelization. Our words must become true, not because we say them enough, but because they are true.
We believe that worldly values, immorality, or evil itself can take us away from God’s love and protection. But there are few greater lies than this. The reality is that if we find ourselves far away from God, the only force that carried us away was our own choices.
The stewardship way of life demands of us a certain maturity of discipleship. Just as a child is not yet ready to be a parent, an immature disciple may not yet be ready to sacrifice regardless of the cost or understand the true value of his generosity. We are growing not only in maturity, but in the ability to trust in God and how to listen for the call as well.
We build up walls of fear, doubt, resentment, anger, and pain, not allowing ourselves to forgive and be good stewards of what we have been given. There is no excuse for you and me to not be reconciled with God and accept this profound compassion. In turn, there is no excuse to not extend that mercy and reconcile with those who have hurt us.
Each newly baptized man, woman, and child have become new creations in Jesus Christ. They have died and risen with the one who rose on the third day and whose empty tomb we celebrate every Easter. Easter Sunday morning, they awake after many months of RCIA and all have the same question before them: “Now what?”
The power of this symbol has been diminished in popular culture. It is often used in fashion and simple wall art and on bumper stickers and T-shirts, sometimes with Christian clichés and sometimes not. But the cross is something so much more. It is a reminder of the pain, suffering, and death of one who loved us so much that he would give his very life for us.
Stewardship begins with the person in the mirror. You and I are accountable to each other, but at the end of the day, the only one who knows the true level of our generosity is God. As this Lent draws to a close, it is time to take a good long look in the mirror.