…called by God our Father… The opening sentence of the mission statement of Christ the King Catholic Church starts with a statement that is fundamental to our identity as Christians and must precede everything else we say or do: God is our loving Father. In His great love and mercy, through Baptism, He has taken us out of the kingdom of Satan and placed us in the Kingdom of His Beloved Son. Through Baptism, He has made us His adopted sons and daughters.Our relationship with God is not a function of our performance. It is not a function of our worthiness, past, present or future. It is a free, unmerited gift of His immeasurable love. All we can do is say, “Yes.”
to be surrendered to the Lord Jesus… The next phrase of our mission statement summarizes our call to discipleship. It is not a call unique to us. Every Christian is called to say, “Yes” to the Lordship of Jesus, to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34). But what does that mean practically? How do we live out that call in our daily lives? Part of the answer is found in stewardship.
What is Christian Stewardship? The American Heritage Dictionary defines a steward as: “One who manages another’s property, finances, or other affairs…” Christian stewards recognize that all we have – our relationships, our talents, our resources, our entire lives – have been given to us by our loving Father. It is our responsibility and our delight as His children to administer those gifts according to His will and for His glory. The U.S. Bishops in their pastoral letter Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response wrote: “Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ leads naturally to the practice of stewardship. These linked realities, discipleship and stewardship, then make up the fabric of a Christian life in which each day is lived in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord.” (p. 14)
The gifts that God our Father has poured out on us are many and varied. Here are just three major categories of gifts:
~ Our Time. St. Clare of Assisi’s last words were, “Blessed be Thou, my God, for having created me.” She recognized that her very existence was a gift from God. To be good stewards of this precious gift, we must regularly take time to be with God in prayer and with our family and loved ones.
~ Our Talents. We are sometimes tempted to think that we have no talents, that talents are reserved for the “gifted.” But God our Father has given all His children talents. To be good stewards of our talents, we must ask Him to help us identify our talents and then use them for the purposes for which He has given them to us.
~ Our Treasure. Our money and other resources have been given to us by God to provide for our needs and the needs of others. To be good stewards of our treasure, we must be both prudent and generous, giving to others, not out of guilt or fear, but out of gratitude to God for His generosity to us.
In the power of His Holy Spirit… Jesus told His apostles, “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5) and that includes being a good steward of our Father’s gifts. But we do not have to do this on our own. Jesus promised that our heavenly Father “will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” (Luke 11:13)
St. Paul wrote, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.” (1 Cor 12:4-6) The gifts described by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 11:2-3) and the gifts and fruits described by St. Paul (1 Cor 12:8-10 & Gal 5:22-23) all enable us to live more fully as children and stewards of God.
In the heart of His Church… Among the greatest gifts that God our Father has given us is the gift of being part of the Catholic Church, to which has been entrusted “the very fullness of grace and truth.” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 3) The Eucharist and the other sacraments, Mary and the other saints, the Pope – these and so many other gifts help us to be “changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.” (2 Cor 3:16)
As a sign of our gratitude, we seek to exercise our stewardship and live our lives, like St. Thérèse, “in the heart of the Church our Mother,” faithful to the Vicar of Christ, that all may know, “to the glory of God our Father, that Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Phil 2:11)