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ONCE ONE CHOOSES TO BECOME A DISCIPLE OF JESUS CHRIST, STEWARDSHIP IS NOT AN OPTION.
Stewardship is fundamentally the work of the Spirit in our lives. When we accept our lives as sheer gifts, the Spirit can use us as apt instruments for spreading the Gospel. Wherever the Spirit works, there is joy. Good stewards are always the joyful bearers of the Good News of Salvation.
“We have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:25). Stewardship always starts with the personal experience of the Risen Christ in our midst and in our hearts. It is a vocation to discipleship. The following of Christ as a disciple entails a personal response: the surrender of ourselves through grace and choice to Jesus Christ. Mature disciples make a conscious, firm decision, carried out in action, to be followers of Jesus Christ no matter the cost to themselves.
A disciple is both a learner and a companion of Jesus Christ, as well as one open to the movement of the Holy Spirit towards a gracious generosity of heart. The authentic disciple regards all he or she is and possesses as gifts and blessings and realizes the need to share those gifts and blessings with others for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Good stewards live with joy and gratitude for the blessings they have received—including those that have multiplied through diligence and hard work. Indeed, good stewards live in communion with Christ and through Christ and the Spirit strive to return all gifts to the Father “with an increase.”
Individuals compose collectively the Body of Christ; therefore, disciples of Jesus Christ are stewards of the Church because stewardship is the personal responsibility of each one of the baptized. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit (1 Cor 12:7).”
Examples of the works, services, and ministries of the good steward include the following:
- Evangelization and witness to the Gospel
- Catechesis and faith formation
- Parent stewardship of the domestic church
- Stewardship of simplicity of life
- Stewardship for ecology of the globe
- Lay witness in the marketplace and institutions
- Financial accountability in personal and parochial affairs
- Stewardship of collegiality and collaboration in parish life and ministries
- Stewardship of social justice and the work for peace
Stewardship, then, is all-encompassing. It provides a place for the simplest individual gesture of kindness as well as stewardship communities working for systemic justice and peace. Stewardship flowing from a personal and communal relationship to Christ holds a particular attraction to people. It is, ultimately, the pull and the power of the Gospel come alive in our times and circumstances.
Stewardship can lead youth and young adults to a more mature understanding of their lives as a vocation—as a call to serve Christ and the Church as a layperson, religious, deacon, or priest. When we accept God’s gifts gratefully, the experience invariably leads to new depths of discerning how the Spirit leads people to a further response to God’s call.
Christ and the Holy Spirit lead us to the Father in our liturgical life of praise and thanksgiving. We bring to the Eucharist all we are and all we have shared as stewards. As the elements of bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ through the action of the Spirit, we also become more deeply transformed as disciples and stewards.
Excerpts from Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2002.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory,
my understanding, and my entire will,
all that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, O Lord, I return it.
All is Yours, dispose of it wholly
according to your will.
Give me Your love and Your grace,
for this is sufficient for me.