February 8, 2013

Editorial

Stewardship is a response in faith to the Lord’s invitation

“Jesus’ disciples and Christian stewards recognize God as the origin of life, giver of freedom, and source of all things. We are grateful for the gifts we have received, and are eager to use them to show our love for God and for one another. We look to the life and teaching of Jesus for guidance in living as Christian stewards.”
—From “To Be a Christian Steward, A Summary of the U.S. Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Stewardship”

During this Year of Faith, we have an opportunity to come to a better understanding of Christian stewardship as an integral dimension of Christian faith, a response to the Lord’s invitation to be his faithful disciples.

As the U.S. bishops tell us in their pastoral letter “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” Christian stewards acknowledge God as the owner and giver of all that we have and themselves as children of God and caretakers of all God’s creation. A good steward takes care of, and shares, all God’s gifts.

According to the bishops, a disciple of Jesus Christ is a man or woman who responds in faith to the Lord’s call to abandon everything and follow him without counting the cost. A Christian steward is one who responds to Jesus’ call in a particular way—with a grateful heart, with a profound sense of responsibility for his or her use of all God’s gifts, with a generous spirit, and with a commitment to “return God’s gifts with increase.”

Stewardship is a grateful response in faith to the Lord’s invitation, “Go, sell what you have; give to the poor … and come, follow me” (Mk 10:21).

Stewardship is an expression of Christian discipleship, a practical form of spirituality. It is faith in action. It is not a program, a fundraiser, a technique for increasing volunteers or the weekly collection. A Christian steward is someone whose entire way of life shows that he or she is grateful, responsible, generous and willing to give back to God with increase.

Stewardship is important to the Church because disciples of Jesus Christ are called to advance the Church’s mission. We have been commissioned to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News. We are called to be new evangelists, missionaries for Christ—in our homes, our work places, our neighborhoods and communities, our parishes, our schools and our dioceses.

Good stewards advance the mission of the Church through their personal witness to Christ; through their active participation in the Church’s ministries of worship, evangelization and faith formation; and through their service to all who are in need.

Stewardship is an entire way of life, an ongoing process, a journey that will last until the Last Day when we will all be asked to render an account of our guardianship of God’s gifts—spiritual and material. None of us can ever be perfect stewards, but we can grow as stewards. As individuals and as faith communities, we can make progress on the stewardship journey.

The stewardship point of view invites us to look at the world and all it contains as pure gift, the abundant blessings of a good and gracious God. Our response to the Lord’s generosity, and to his invitation and challenge to drop everything and follow him is what allows us to be faithful disciples in spite of our sinfulness.

By looking at Jesus’ life and teaching from a steward’s point of view, we can better understand who he is—the Father’s gift—and who we are called to be—his intimate friends and disciples.

As Christian stewards, we are responsible for taking care of, and sharing, the great gift we have received from the Father. As faithful disciples, our mission is to proclaim Jesus as Lord and to carry on his work for the salvation of the world.

This truly is the new evangelization and, at the same time, the work of stewarding all God’s gifts. May we do God’s will always!

Especially during this Year of Faith, let’s grow in our appreciation for stewardship as faith in action. Let’s take care of, and share, the great gift of faith!

—Daniel Conway

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