“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Pt 4:10)
In the coming days, we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a time when many of us will gather with family and friends to enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.
For many people, Thanksgiving Day is hectic – so hectic in fact – that they forget what is at the heart of day itself, offering our thanks to God for the many gifts that have been bestowed upon us.
The month of November, and especially the time around Thanksgiving, are the perfect opportunity to reflect on stewardship.
When we hear the word “stewardship,” many of us automatically think of money.
While that is partially correct, the true definition is about so much more.
Stewardship is rooted in scripture, recognizing we, as individuals, are not owners of our lives but rather are stewards or managers.
Stewardship, quite simply, is recognizing that everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God and being grateful and generous with those gifts.
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.
So what identifies a steward?
Safeguarding material and human resources and using them responsibly are one answer; so is generous giving of time, talent and treasure.
But being a Christian steward means more.
In “The Theology of Stewardship: A Summary of the United States Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Stewardship,” the bishops defined a Christian steward as someone who “receives God’s gifts gratefully, cultivates them responsibly, shares them lovingly in justice with others, and returns them with increase to the Lord.”
In short, we must all consider stewardship as a way of life.
We must be collaborators and cooperators in continuing the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, which is the Church’s essential mission. This mission – proclaiming, 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 this 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.
In these final days of November, spend a few minutes each day thinking about all that God has given you and say “thank you.”
Together in our journey of faith, may God bless us and may we respond as faithful disciples – faithful stewards!