As the Archdiocese of St. Louis prepares to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Stewardship Awareness Sunday on Sept. 27, I’d like to revisit the pastoral letter that has become the foundation of parish stewardship formation — “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.” But, be warned, these topics aren’t always easy.
“Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus no matter the cost to themselves.”
Has your relationship with Jesus grown? Or, is your relationship still at the same place when you were in grade school? Before you can have a relationship with someone you have to meet them first. Have you met Jesus? If not, talk to people that have. Put yourself in a position to meet Him — spend time in silent prayer, attend a retreat, wonder about the beauty of creation, read about the saints, thank God for all that He has given you.
“No matter the cost.” This is another one of those paradoxes of our faith that sounds bad but is actually very good. As we try to live God-centered lives, God rewards us with joy and peace. This doesn’t mean that our lives will be trouble-free. Rather in bad times, we recognize our dependence on God, that we are not designed to do it on our own, that God will provide for our needs (not our wants) and that material things cannot replace invisible things like faith, hope and love.
“Many Catholics are generous, but not always in proportion to what they possess.”
Remember the parable of the talents. We are called to grow and nurture our gifts, not bury them, and then give back with increase. Too often we only give the minimum required. We hold back because we rely on our own self-sufficiency and don’t trust God completely.
This is particularly true with our money. Many people compartmentalize their faith and see money as a separate issue — that God has nothing to do with their money because “I work hard and I earned it.” Remember, who gave you those skills and talents to get that job that allowed you to earn the money to support your family — God did.
“Jesus’ call is urgent. He does not tell us to follow Him in the future, but in the here and now, in the current moment and in our current circumstances.”
Every day is a gift. Too many of us take time from granted or make excuses. Jesus wants to use what is going on in your life right now, whether it is good or bad. Your story may be the Gospel someone else needs to hear. Your action may be the answer to someone else’s prayer. You may be the door that opens someone’s relationship with Jesus.
Many people feel that they don’t have any gifts or that they have nothing special to offer. Remember, God doesn’t make junk! We are all created in His image and likeness! No gift is too small or insignificant. That little tug of the heart you feel, that’s God inviting you, right here, right now.
“Stewardship of the Church leads people to share in the work of evangelization.”
As we mature as disciples, our relationship with Jesus grows. So do the opportunities that the Lord puts us in to talk about it. Share your stories of God’s active presence in your life. You don’t have to knock on a stranger’s door. Start with those closest to you like your family and friends.
When you are using your gifts in the way that God intended, your love for Christ can’t be contained! Others are attracted to it and want what you have. This is evangelization — working in collaboration with the Holy Spirit with the gifts He has given you.
Please take time this Stewardship Awareness Sunday to look back in gratitude for all that God has given you and then look forward in generosity of how you will use your gifts to serve the Lord both individually and as a parish community.
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. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or [email protected]