What is Stewardship?
The word "stewardship" refers to the Catholic approach to the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Stewardship is living out a commitment to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered. Profound gratitude, justice and love become the fundamental motives for giving back to God. Everything that God has given to us is intended to serve the divine plan. Therefore, our life is to be lived in gratitude toward God. In a variety of ways, we as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, share out time, talent and treasure to build up the Church and make our world a better place.
Embracing Stewardship as a Way of life and embracing the following principles:
- Return to the Lord With Abundance
Gratitude is to acknowledge with gratitude the blessings we have received from God by offering a portion of them for the Church and the poor.
Forming Good Stewards
The following was written by Deacon Jerry Martinez of the Archdiocese New Orleans who reminds us that "Good stewards are formed by other good stewards!" Useful in your parish bulletin, this material is also helpful for homilists.
June 6th | From Luke's Gospel
"They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets." The crowds that gathered were fed. Jesus asked the disciples to gather the crowds into smaller groups of about fifty and it is in these smaller groups that people were fed. Gathering parish members into smaller groups to carry out the ministry of the church is a way stewardship feeds the soul and builds community.
None of the Gospels tell the exact detail of how four or five thousand men, plus women and children are fed with a few loaves and fish. The Church teaches us that the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fishes was a prefiguration of the Body and Blood of Jesus. But let us consider another miracle, just as great. Jesus knew the semitic ethic that required people to share with others. He knew people carried food and wine under their garments, but refrained from taking it out for fear others had brought their own. Note that Jesus blessed the loaves and fish and gave them away. He did not keep any for himself. Did people see his generous act and decide to share what they had with one another? In the context of God's gifts to us of reason and free will – the ability to choose to be generous or not to be generous, what is the great miracle: multiplication of loaves and fish, or multiplication of generous hearts? Which makes us a greater witness to the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus in the Eucharist.
June 13th | From Luke's Gospel
"Accompanying him were….Joanna the wife of Herod's steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources." Recognizing the abundance of God's love, compassion, and forgiveness offered through and by Jesus an intentional community forms to support the ministry of Jesus with their resources. The message of stewardship is about being intentional in our participation in parish, community and family life. Is about supporting all of these in some way with our resources of time, talent and treasure.
"The one, I suppose, whose larger debt is forgiven." Luke 7:36-83
Kenny Rogers sings a Country Western Song, "Oh Lord it is hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way." Could it be our theme song? Is the fact that we might be mistaken or wrong pretty far down on our list of possibilities? And we are proud of that? The ability to admit that we are in error or done evil does not come easy. For many people, the three most difficult words are not "I love you," but "I am wrong" and "I am sorry." And there is the always difficult "I forgive you!" Contrary to the song by Kenny Rogers, true humility is the willingness to say, "I am wrong !" and "I am sorry!" when necessary. And sometimes the best way we can give is to forgive. And the more we feel we have to forgive, the more we need to give. God gave us all that we have and are. Have we used all that God gave us as he intended? If not, have we said I am wrong and I am sorry? Our God is an awesome God. He wants to say, I forgive you! In the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When was the last time we took advantage of that blessed Sacrament? Well, that's too long!
June 20th | From Luke's Gospel
"For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." The challenge of stewardship is found in the giving up. Giving up the urge to hold on to our time, or talent, or treasure. Giving up the desire to control how these are used to support parish life and ministry. The comfort and grace of God experienced through stewardship comes from the very same giving up.
"But who do you say that I am?" Luke 9:18-24
Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" they respond with several names or possibilities. Then Jesus asks, "But who do you say that I am?" Now the question is personal. To answer they must reveal what is in their hear and head. Their answer will tell Jesus how they feel about him. Peter says: "You are the Christ of God." That took great faith and courage. The implications were enormous.
Jesus wastes no time in bluntly telling them that the Christ of God" was going to suffer; be rejected by the authorities; killed and rise on the third day." Jesus leaves nothing to the imagination. Then he adds what his closest friends were most afraid to hear. "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." We may be relieved that we were not present with Jesus two thousand years ago. But Jesus is present with us today – in the Eucharist; in his Church. He asks each of us, "Who do you say that I am?" How do we answer him? Are we willing to accept the consequences?
June 27th | From Letter to Galations
"For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement namely, You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Paul repeats the very words used by Jesus about loving neighbour. The whole of stewardship is fulfilled in living out this command to love neighbour as yourself. Said another way, embracing stewardship as a way of life, leads to living this great commandment. Embracing stewardship and loving your neighbour as yourself are mutually fulfilling.
"No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:51-62
When Elijah calls to Elisha, he hesitated, "Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye." Elijah does not prevent him. Then Elisha kills the team of oxen he was driving, uses the wood of the plow to build a fire to burn their flesh and distributes it to the people and follows Elijah. He detaches himself from everything he previously depended on. Paul tells us. "For freedom Christ set us free." Christ teaches us to be free from attachment to thing of this world. This freedom is not for selfish pursuits, but "to serve one another in love." Jesus calls us to follow him, but we sometimes hesitate. If we start to follow Jesus but let other attachments distract us, we will never be free to discern God's will for us and respond in freedom to God for all that he has given to us. What are the attachments in our life that keep us from the true freedom that allows us to follow Christ, without hesitation? Make a list. Use the back of the page and more if necessary.
- Keeping Stewardship Alive: Proven Stewardship Ideas | By ICSC 2006
- Stewardship: Disciples Respond - A Practical Guide for Pastoral Leaders | by ICSC 1997, 2004
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