One Community, One Spirit, One Heart

What is Stewardship?

Stewardship is a path to holiness. It makes us more like Christ who came not to be served, but to serve. It is a grateful awareness that all we have and all we are comes freely from God. When we offer our lives back to God in love, He blesses that generosity a hundredfold.

Disciples as Stewards

Let us begin with being a disciple—a follower of our Lord Jesus Christ. As members of the Church, Jesus calls us to be disciples. This has astonishing implications:

  • Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.
  • Christian disciples experience conversion—lifeshaping changes of mind and heart—and commit their very selves to the Lord. 
  • Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live.

Stewards of Creation

The Bible contains a profound message about the stewardship of material creation: God created the world, but entrusts it to human beings. Caring for and cultivating the world involves the following:

  • Joyful appreciation for the God-given beauty and wonder of nature;
  • Protection and preservation of the environment, which would be the stewardship of ecological concern;
  • Respect for human life—shielding life from threat and assault, doing everything that can be done to enhance this gift and make life flourish; and
  • Development of this world through noble human effort—physical labor, the trades and professions, the arts and sciences. We call such effort "work."  Work is a fulfilling human vocation.

The Second Vatican Council points out that, through work, we build up not only our world but the Kingdom of God, already present among us. Work is a partnership with God—our share in a divine human collaboration in creation. It occupies a central place in our lives as Christian stewards.

Stewards of Vocation

Jesus calls us, as his disciples, to a new way of life—the Christian way of life—of which stewardship is part. But Jesus does not call us as nameless people in a faceless crowd. He calls us individually, by name. Each one of us—clergy, religious, lay person; married, single; adult, child—has a personal vocation. God intends each one of us to play a unique role in carrying out the divine plan. The challenge, then, is to understand our role—our vocation—and to respond generously to this call from God. Christian vocation entails the practice of stewardship. In addition, Christ calls each of us to be stewards of our personal vocations, which we receive from God.

Stewards of the Church

Stewards of God's gifts are not passive beneficiaries. We cooperate with God in our own redemption and in the redemption of others. We are also obliged to be stewards of the Church—collaborators and cooperators in continuing the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, which is the Church's essential mission. This mission—proclaiming and teaching, serving and sanctifying—is our task. It is the personal responsibility of each one of us as stewards of the Church. All members of the Church have their own roles to play in carrying out its mission:

  • Parents, who nurture their children in the light of faith;
  • Parishioners, who work in concrete ways to make their parishes true communities of faith and vibrant sources of service to the larger community;
  • All Catholics, who give generous support—time, money, prayers, and personal service according to their circumstances—to parish and diocesan programs
  • and to the universal Church.

A Steward's Way

The life of a Christian steward models the life of Jesus.  It is challenging and even difficult, in many respects, yet intense joy comes to those who take the risk to live as Christian stewards. Women and men who seek to live as stewards learn that "all things work for good for those who love God" (Rom 8:28).

After Jesus, we look to Mary as an ideal steward. As the Mother of Christ, she lived her ministry in a spirit of fidelity and service; she responded generously to the call. We must ask ourselves: Do we also wish to be disciples of Jesus Christ and Christian stewards of our world and our Church? Central to our human and Christian vocations, as well as to the unique vocation each one of us receives from God, is that we be good stewards of the gifts we possess. God gives us this divine-human workshop, this world and Church of ours.

The Spirit shows us the way. Stewardship is a part of that journey.

Source: A Summary of the US Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Stewardship 

 

Acts of Stewardship by our Youth - placed in the Sunday collection