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STEWARDSHIP | Share the joy!

Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St. Louis are conducting their annual parish stewardship renewal and will celebrate Stewardship Awareness Sunday on Sept. 23. The theme this year is “Share the Joy!”

It’s been my experience and observation over the past several years that when we can help people align their thoughts and actions with God’s plan for them, the result is supernatural joy. Joy that is infused by God. Joy that others notice and are attracted to. Joy that can’t be contained and bursts forth. Joy that you have to share with others. Joy that will lead you to its source — God, Our Father.

God wants to fill us with joy and be free from worry or anxiety. He wants us to trust in Him, like little children. He wants us to recognize the blessings He has provided and then share those gifts freely as active members of the Body of Christ, not just passive by-standers. He wants us to share our God-given gifts within our parish community and beyond; to find new ways to help others grow as joy-filled children of God.

However, when it comes to our faith, many of us just dip our toe in the water, never experiencing the completely refreshing feeling of a personal relationship with God. Jumping in with both feet starts by placing our trust in Him and opening ourselves up to receive His love, mercy and forgiveness.

“Let the little children come to me … for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Adults often dream of a return to that carefree time when someone else took care of us and loved us unconditionally.

This is exactly what God offers us — to be His child, to take care of us and to provide for us.

God’s gift of life makes everything possible. All our accomplishments and relationships, luxuries and opportunities, everything we have and everyone who loves us is possible because we have been born into a wonderful world — a world for which we are called to nurture and care.

So what then? What about becoming like little children? Just as children believe in things not seen, we too, as adults, have to commit to a life of faith. Once we choose to trust in God, prayer, gratitude, humility, generosity and joy will no longer be things we are searching for, but things that flow immediately and naturally from our heart.

During this stewardship season, consider how living a grateful and generous lifestyle transforms not only your individual life, but the life of your parish community. Consider how sharing your Joy transforms the lives of others.

Take time to thank God for everything and everyone He has given you over this past year. Take the first step to the Joyful life God wants for you and others. “Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:15 – 18).

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].

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