Stewardship, “What does it mean?”

During the month of January our community will be focusing on the theme of stewardship. It is true that over the years we have become progressively more and more familiar with the concept of stewardship and all that entails. We have heard sermons, listened to guest speakers, read pamphlets, and filled out our stewardship cards each year. My hope is that over the next few weeks we will all take a fresh look at what stewardship is and the role the parish of St. Catherine plays in our lives.

To properly understand stewardship we must first look at how we approach life. We need to ask ourselves if we have an “attitude of gratitude.” Do we see the things we have, our relationships, our jobs, our possessions, even our health as gifts? Or on the contrary are these simply the things we own; are our health, our wealth, and our very life “possessions” we have worked for and deserve?

In the modern century it is very natural to think in terms of ownership, in terms of what we deserve, what we have earned. The Church, however, would argue that what we have has been given by God and should be viewed in terms of stewardship. In reality, our Faith teaches us that we don’t really own anything but rather we are for a brief period of time just caretakers. Without this perspective of stewardship, we easily become abusive, we hoard, we over indulge, and we exploit.

Our process towards becoming good stewards continues when we learn to improve the gifts God has given us. The parable of the ten talents reminds us that it is not enough for us to simply recognize our talents as gifts from God. Rather, He expects us to do something with them. Sitting on the sidelines is not okay, we have to get into the “game.” How often have we seen someone waste their God-given talents through laziness, selfishness, or simply by being careless? The reality is when we fail to increase the talents we have been given, we end up losing them.

The final step in the process of becoming a good steward is the most difficult. We are asked to return to God what he has given us. Think of a farmer’s work, how the seed is a gift from God, human beings cannot create it, but at the same time a seed must be planted, and cultivated, this is our effort. We know that in time that seed will sprout, and grow, and eventually it will yield a crop ready for harvest. When harvest time comes, our gratitude and love leads us to returning these first fruits to God. If this last step does not happen with the harvest it spoils, it sits unused, and its true purpose is never realized or fulfilled. Unlike the parable of the farmer who harvested a bumper crop we must be ready not to build a bigger barn and enjoy ourselves. Rather, we must look to where there is an opportunity to do God’s work and as the adage goes, share the wealth.

May our gracious and loving God bring each of us a deeper understanding of stewardship this New Year!