October 26, 2018

Christ the Cornerstone

Stewardship must continue in troubled times

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“The work of the Church must continue especially in troubled times. The Gospel must be proclaimed in good times and in bad times. Christ’s messages of healing and hope are always urgently needed.” (Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J.)

Representatives of the International Catholic Stewardship Council are meeting next week in Nashville, Tenn., for their annual conference. You can bet there will be many conversations (scheduled and unscheduled) about the challenges of raising funds for the Church’s ministries in a time of public scandal.

Properly understood and practiced, stewardship should transcend politics and scandals. In all times and seasons, we are called to be responsible stewards of God’s gifts (material and spiritual) and to give generously not counting the cost to ourselves. But this beautiful spiritual principle is difficult to keep in perspective especially when times are tough economically, culturally or politically. When we’re angry, we are naturally tempted to “vote with our wallets” in order to make sure our voices are heard.

But as Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., formerly archbishop of Indianapolis, reminds the people of his archdiocese, the work of the Lord must continue in good times and in bad times.

Good stewards are not “fair weather givers.” They give their time, their talents and, yes, their treasure in all times and seasons because they are grateful for God’s abundant generosity to them.

Christian stewardship involves self‑giving. It is much more than what we contribute to the Church or to other charitable organizations financially. Authentic stewardship requires conversion, a willingness to change our minds and hearts so that we can follow Jesus and live as he lived.

Christian stewards are generous people because they are grateful for all God’s blessings. They are willing to share with others unselfishly because they know this is how God wants us to live.

Stewardship is a source of grace when it helps us develop a lifestyle of sharing. When we respond to God’s goodness by growing in gratitude, responsibility and generosity, we can experience the difference that stewardship makes in our daily lives. Stewardship invites us to reflect on what is most basic and fundamental in our lives—and to respond from the heart.

This is the heart of Christian stewardship. To be kind and generous even to strangers, to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure, this is what it means to be a good steward of all God’s gifts.

For many generations now, the Church in central and southern Indiana has benefited from the generosity of Catholics in all 39 counties of our archdiocese. Because of the generous gifts of time, talent and treasure we receive from parishioners, our Church is able to carry out the work of the Lord here and now. Our parishes regularly celebrate Mass and the other sacraments.

Look around your parish church this Sunday. Everything you see there came from the generosity of parishioners over the course of many generations. Take a careful look at how our Church hands on the faith to future generations through our Catholic schools and parish religious education programs. Not every diocese is blessed to have the kind of education programs we have, and all of it comes from the generosity of parishioners, parents and friends.

And here in central and southern Indiana, we serve the poor and needy. We help individuals and families who are in financial trouble. We also reach out to the poor and marginalized here in Indiana and in other parts of the world. This is what Christ asks us to do as his disciples, but it is only possible because of the good stewardship of many people.

Thank you for your past generosity. Reflect on God’s blessings in your life and on the opportunities you have to be generous in sharing God’s gifts with others. Stewardship helps us recognize that both the ordinary experiences of daily living and the most profound moments of our life and death are gifts from God to be cherished and shared with others.

Since God never stops giving, our opportunities to respond from the heart are truly endless. That’s why we believe that stewardship is a way of life—and a lifelong source of grace and deepening spirituality.

May God’s abundant blessings be on the priests, deacons, religious women and men and lay leaders who will gather in Nashville next week to promote the spirituality of stewardship. May the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary help them—and all of us— be grateful and generous stewards of all God’s gifts—in good times and in hard times.

And may the gifts we have received through Mary’s Divine Son be shared freely with others so that Christ’s work can continue uninterrupted here in our archdiocese and throughout the world! †

Local site Links: