These are some overheard comments my hearing aids have picked up over the years regarding stewardship: “Stewardship Sunday means he is going to ask us for money.” That comment is probably the most common of all. The following comment is a classic: “They always seem to want money.” A pastor may talk about money once a year, but it is the standard comment some make. The one I find interesting, since I very seldom talk about money, is: “You would think that there is more to talk about in a homily than money.” What is stewardship? Obviously these do not define stewardship.
First of all stewardship is not about you nor is it about me. It is all about Jesus Christ and responding to His great commission. At the end of Matthew’s gospel Jesus handed over his mission to the Church: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28: 19-20).” This is the mission given to the Church, and since we are a part of the Church this mission is given to St. Robert of Newminster Parish. It is a mission that we shall be held accountable for on Judgement Day. If one could take Jesus out of the picture, stewardship would make no sense because it has to be understood in terms of our relationship with Him.
In order for stewardship on both a parish level and a personal level to have meaning, we need to see ourselves as co-redeemers with Jesus. Yes, we have to see ourselves as co-redeemers. I mean this in the sense that Jesus is the Redeemer, and when we allow ourselves to be channels of his redemption we become co-redeemers. St. Ignatius of Loyola defined co-redeemers by doing God’s will. He said: “To give, and not to count the cost; to fight, and not to heed the wounds, to toil, and not to seek for rest, to labor, and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do thy will.” For St. Ignatius and also for St. Francis, doing the will of God was of greater value than any possession. Both of these men came from wealthy families. It can be no different for us today as it was for them. If doing God’s will is more valuable than what we have, we have put our feet firmly on the road to stewardship. Another way of saying this is: if fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ is top priority in our lives and if we ordered all that we are and have to this goal, than stewardship is meaningful and life-giving.
As co-redeemers with Jesus Christ, we are to reflect Christ in the world around us in our prayer, in our actions, and in our giving. This is stewardship. These also become the places where we encounter Jesus in a personal way. The very act of reflecting Christ is also for us a place of encounter, that we may reflect more of who He is and less of who we are. This is stewardship. St. Augustine after his conversion said this about stewardship: “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” He would not have said this before his conversion. Stewardship is a way of being in relationship with the Lord in which I place everything I am and have at the service to Him. This is the life-goal that we ought to strive toward because this is the path of discipleship.
Yours in Christ,