What a great opportunity to be a good Steward – serve on the Stewardship Council! Plan and assist in stewardship renewal and help keep stewardship alive throughout the year.
St. Paul offers a formula for living the way we are supposed to live as Christians in the Second Reading (Phil 2:1-11) on Sunday, Oct. 1st. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.” Doing that is a challenge for most all of us. Yet, that is one of the secrets to being a good steward and living as Christ wants us to live.
To truly live that way requires a dramatic conversion. All of us know people who are so self-centered that they often are not even aware that they are totally unwilling to compromise or to even recognize the value of those around them. Achieving this kind of self awareness, of what kind of a person we are, is a significant step on our faith and life journeys.
Screenwriter and playwright William Nicholson once wrote, “God does not necessarily want us to be happy. He wants us to be lovable, worthy of love, able to be loved by Him. What makes people hard to love? It is called selfishness. Selfish people are hard to love, because so little love comes out of them.”
That is our challenge, to love others in such a way that we become lovable as well. Christ told us over and over that the secret to being His disciple and the secret to being a good steward is to “Love your neighbor.” That is how to be the kind of person Paul calls us to be as well.
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Stewardship is a grateful response to God's Love.
God reveals his perfect and infinite love for us most visibly in His Son, Jesus Christ. A steward makes God's love visible by imitating Jesus. Stewards bask in the wonder and awe of God's love. The more deeply a person grows in love for God, the more that person grows in their heart a need to see stewardship as a total way of life, a way of love, that imitates God's love for us. Stewards see everything good as gifts received from God and respond in gratitude with the gift of their self.
Stewardship is a conversion journey of receiving God's love and then returning love to Him. A conversion requires prayer, reflection and time to allow God to show us who we are, and the person of love that we can become. Throughout this conversion experience, one yearns to change and grow into the person God created them to be - a steward uniquely His own human being, but united in one Body through Jesus Christ. Stewardship transforms lives because of its love, and it is in this transformation process and conversion journey towards love that we give new life to the Church. "If you wish to come after me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. For if you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will save it." (Luke 9:23-24)
C.S. Lewis once wrote, "A person whose hands are full of parcels cannot receive a gift." Today, one of the spiritual evils facing our nation is a growing materialism and consumerism. When one holds so tightly to material possessions, one cannot receive the spiritual gifts that God wishes to give to His beloved children. God transforms a steward beyond mere human kindness to a love of sacrifice and detachment, enabling the steward to continually receive God's gifts. When a steward loves God above earthly possessions, God provides the grace for the steward to love to an even greater depth. This depth of love is a growth in holiness. Holiness is one of the joyful rewards of a stewardship way of life.
In the deepening conversion of love, the steward learns to give of self through time, talent and treasure, not out of obligation and duty, but out of sincere desire. The steward recognizes within the very nature of each human person, an inherent need to give. For the steward, this way of life and giving of love becomes as natural as breathing itself.
What makes such a conversion possible? It is God's love for us that lies at the heart of such conversion. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life." (John 3:16) It is God's desire that we have life. Jesus came to give life and to give it abundantly, (cf. John 10:10). Jesus Christ is the foundation of the stewardship way of life. He is the capstone of the structure.
Much of this information is taken from The Pillars of Parish Stewardship through the Catholic Diocese of Wichita