When someone gives you a gift, it’s natural to say “thank you.” For most people, gratitude is the first response to generosity. Saying “thank you” is the appropriate response to family, friends and even strangers. And, we are called to do the same with God.
After we receive a gift it would be very rude to say, “Yes, I deserve this gift.” But, sometimes that is exactly how we respond to God’s generosity. We take the gifts we have been given for granted and forget to say “thank you” to God.
God showers us with His mercy on a daily basis. How many of us say “thank you” every day? How many of us even recognize God’s grace and generosity in our lives?
Stewardship, at its heart, is an act of mercy. We come to see others with the eyes of mercy and learn to practice compassion in the same way God the Father sees us. Stewardship is an invitation to share the goodness of God with others. It’s our call to be one — one Body of Christ.
After we recognize our God-given gifts and show gratitude to God, we start to develop a generous heart and become channels of His love and mercy to others. This is the conversion of heart, the transformation to live a “God-centered” life.
Pope Francis said, “Jesus asks us to forgive and to give. To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others, knowing that God showers His goodness upon us with immense generosity.”
Take a few minutes and think about the following questions to help grow and be a better steward of mercy.
Is my heart open and ready to receive God’s gift of mercy? Stewardship hinges on developing a personal relationship with Jesus, a relationship defined by His mercy for us.
Have I honestly recognized my weakness and sought God’s guidance? To receive God’s mercy we have to acknowledge our weaknesses, our sinfulness and our need.
Am I ready to forgive my spouse, a co-worker or the driver in the car next to me? Our daily lives are filled with little frustrations and disappointments, an unkind word or unfriendly glance. These wrongs hurt us, but we are called to show mercy and compassion.
Can I name two ways I felt God’s mercy during the past week? We need to experience God’s mercy before we can make any progress in our spiritual life and in the life of our parish community.
How can I invite others back to the Church? It is the responsibility of every Catholic to help ensure that the Church is strong for generations. What can I do to pray for, participate in and be generous with my parish today?
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County.