December 3, 2021


Our search for God does not take place in isolation

“Gratitude is more contagious than any pandemic. It soothes our bitterness, resentment and fear, and it opens the eyes of our hearts to see how blessed we truly are in spite of our difficulties. Simply by saying “thank you” for whatever blessings—large or small—we have received, we can find relief from whatever pain we feel in our minds, hearts or bodies.” (Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, “Gratitude leads us to hope, joy,” Nov. 26, 2021).

Christian stewardship invites us to be generous givers and grateful receivers—especially during this holy season. There are four characteristics or qualities that define the spirituality of stewardship: gratitude, accountability, generosity and the willingness to give back to the Lord with increase. Especially at Christmastime, these qualities can make the difference between a joyful season and a sad one.

Gratitude helps us remember that we have been abundantly blessed by a loving and merciful God. It reminds us to say “thank you” and not take the gifts of Christmas for granted.

Accountability challenges us to be responsible for taking care of the gifts we receive at Christmas and throughout the New Year. When we accept our responsibilities and can be accountable for the gifts of time, talent and treasure that we have received, we can truly experience the peace and joy of Christmas.

Generosity is what Christmas is all about. God gives us everything we have (our material and spiritual gifts). All he asks in return is that we share these gifts generously with all our sisters and brothers everywhere.

Giving back to the Lord with increase is what makes Christmas such a special time of year. As faithful Christian stewards, we don’t simply hold onto God’s gifts; we increase them, making sure they multiply and grow! That’s why the joys of the season spread exponentially whenever we are grateful, accountable and generous in giving and receiving God’s gifts.

God loves us so much that he constantly gives us his gifts of healing and hope, love and mercy, peace and joy, courage and perseverance, and faithfulness even when we turn our backs on him or fail to say “thank you.”

As our Holy Father Pope Francis writes in his encyclical “Fratelli Tutti: On Fraternity and Social Friendship,” (#140):

“Life without fraternal gratuitousness becomes a form of frenetic commerce, in which we are constantly weighing up what we give and what we get back in return. God, on the other hand, gives freely, to the point of helping even those who are unfaithful; he ‘makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good’

[Mt 5:45]. There is a reason why Jesus told us: ‘When you give alms, do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret’ [Mt 6:3-4]. We received life freely; we paid nothing for it. Consequently, all of us are able to give without expecting anything in return, to do good to others without demanding that they treat us well in return. As Jesus told his disciples: ‘Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give’ [Mt 10:8].”

The synodal journey we have begun as an archdiocese, and as the universal Church, is intended to prepare for the Synod of Bishops which will be held at the Vatican in October 2023. As Pope Francis frequently says, the journey we are making together should prepare us to encounter Jesus Christ, to listen prayerfully to God’s word, and to discover what the Holy Spirit is saying to us as individuals, families, parish communities and dioceses throughout the world. One of the beneficial byproducts of this process is that we are reminded that our search for God does not take place in isolation but in community.

God loves us so much that by the power of the Holy Spirit he gives us his only Son as our Lord and Savior. This is such a magnificent gift that our only possible response is to receive this gift with gratitude and humility as faithful stewards of God’s abundant generosity.

None of us should have to celebrate Christmas alone. Even if by some chance we are separated from those we love most in the world, we are invited to walk together as sisters and brothers who encounter Jesus at this special time of year through the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas.

—Daniel Conway

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