An excerpt in a book on the early Church reveals the testimony of a prominent Roman citizen named Emeritus who was arrested with a priest named Saturnius and a group of Christians who came to his home. They were placed on trial for “getting caught” celebrating the Eucharist. The proconsul at the time interrogated Emeritus by accusing him that he knew full well the imperial prohibition of the people to participate in the “new way,” as it was called then. Celebrating the Eucharist was strictly forbidden!
“Why did you let them into your home knowing it was against the law?” the proconsul demanded.
To which Emeritus replied, “I had to.”
“But, why?” shouted the proconsul.
Emeritus then responded with the words that most likely sent him to his death: “I had to, because I can’t live without the Eucharist!”
Our commitment to live the stewardship way of life is to be committed to what is most fundamental to our Catholic life of the Church, and that is the Eucharist. How willing would we be to respond like Emeritus: “We just can’t live without the Eucharist”? (more…)
In the Parable of the Sower, the seed is the word of God, and Christ is the sower. We, the hearers, are the soils on which the seed falls. All of us must examine ourselves. Is my soul hardened by sin, so I don’t hear Christ and I resemble the path with its hard soil beaten by constant travelers? Am I like the rocky ground, eager to respond but shallow so I cannot take rejection or persecution for the sake of Christ? Do I let the cares and concerns and temptations of the world choke my spiritual life? Or am I good soil in which a fruitful harvest is growing?
Clearing our life of stones and weeds is a lifetime task, but we need to work at it and seeks God’s grace to assist. Speaking through Isaiah, God stated that his word shall do his will. As stewards we are called to use our time, talent, and treasure so God’s word will “yield a fruitful harvest” in our lives, as the Responsorial Psalm puts it. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1724) puts it, “By the working of the Word of Christ, we slowly bear fruit in the Church to the glory of God.”
July 10, 2011 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
God’s word is active. Some may find that statement surprising, as they assume words are weak or static, while deeds are active. But the conviction presented in the Scriptures is that God acts through his word. Think of the creation account presented in Genesis 1: “Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light,” and so throughout the chapter. God spoke, and his work was accomplished. His word remains equally powerful.
That’s the background to Isaiah’s prophecy. God declared, “My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Man can set up obstacles to God’s word, and perhaps delay it, but ultimately we cannot block his will.
Both in the reading from Isaiah and in the Gospel passage from St. Matthew, the farmer’s seed is used as a symbol for God’s word. St. Luke’s version of the Parable of the Sower (8:11) is even more explicit: “The seed is the word of God.” When Christians approach this parable, we know Christ is the Sower and the seed is God’s word. So then the question comes, What kind of soil are we, the hearers? (more…)
When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was drafting its 1992 pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, Msgr. Thomas McGread — along with members of the U.S. Bishops’ ad hoc committee on stewardship — was instrumental in bringing forth the concept of stewardship as a way of life.
Stewardship was and is a concept grounded in scripture and the sacraments, and through this concept, we learn that “God is Love,” and out of this love, we all have received the great gift of life. During the course of this life we learn that all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever will be, is gift from God. In recognition of these gifts, as we are reminded in scripture: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt 4:10) (more…)
The parable of the talents in Matthew’s Gospel is familiar to most of us. In fact, many of us have probably been told of its stewardship message time and again. But in my blog post today, I want to hit on a portion of that Gospel’s message that I believe is particularly important and pertinent as we all strive to live stewardship today.
In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who goes on a journey and entrusts his servants with his money while he’s gone.
“The one who received five talents came forward bringing the additional five … Then, the one who had received two talents also came forward and sad, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See I have made two more” (Mt. 25: 20, 22).
To both of these servants, the Master replies: “Well done my good and faithful servant… come, share your master’s joy… For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.”
What does this mean for us as stewards of God’s gifts today? He expects us to cultivate and develop the gifts He has given us and return them with increase. And for what? It is definitely not for His sake, but for ours. He knows that in doing so we will become better people and grow deeper in our faith.
To illustrate that reality, I would like to tell a story. (more…)
The prayer of Jesus praising the Father for hiding his truth from the learned and wise was not intended to provide an excuse for students not to study. Instead he was contrasting what the world values as wisdom and learning with the true wisdom revealed by God, whose standards are the opposite of those of the world.
The same theme appears in the prophecy of Zechariah who proclaimed that the Messiah would be humble and peaceful when most expected him to be a military conqueror. And again, St. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit instead of living “according to the flesh,” our sinful human desires which govern most people.
The way to begin is by thanking God and praising him, as we sing in Psalm 145, “I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.” Thanksgiving takes our attention off ourselves and directs it toward God, who is the source of our time, talent, and treasure. Realizing that all we have comes from him as gifts, we become willing to share them, and so discover true wisdom.
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel sound like the perfect excuse for the pupil who hasn’t studied, don’t they? “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to little ones.” If God’s revelation is the most important thing we can know, and he has hidden it from the wise and learned, isn’t it the best thing not to become learned and wise?
Of course, that is missing the whole point of what Jesus is saying. It’s the attitude that counts. Does someone want to appear wise in order to win great honor? Then she is going to miss what’s really important, because she has been devoted to worldly wisdom. Does someone seek to gain great knowledge in order to have power over other people? Then he is going to miss what’s really important in the Kingdom of God.
In the matter of knowledge, then, as in so many other areas of life, God’s standards are just the opposite of what our fallen world values. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord” (Is 55:8). That’s one of the results of the Fall: it’s not just a matter of individual sinfulness. The whole standard by which mankind judges is topsy-turvy unless it’s corrected by God’s revelation received through grace. (more…)
I once received a PowerPoint e-mail from a priest friend who is a retired Air Force chaplain, and it relates perfectly to what living the stewardship way of life is all about.
We will leave out the pictures and leave you with the words from “10 Things God Won’t Ask You on That Day“: (more…)
The Lord provided for the Israelites on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land by supplying them with manna for food and water for drink. He wanted them to learn to trust him for their physical needs, so they’d learn to trust him for their spiritual needs as well. “Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”
Jesus also provides his followers with the food they need on their spiritual journeys, a food even more amazing than manna, for he feeds us with his own Body and Blood. It’s only by eating his flesh and drinking his blood that we can receive the nourishment we need for eternal life, he said, and that’s what we receive at the Holy Eucharist.
But we do not obtain this nourishment only for our own benefit. We receive it also so we can carry out the mission entrusted to us by Christ, who gave us his flesh “for the life of the world.” We are called to use the time, talent, and treasure entrusted to us to extend the Kingdom of God by working to invite all people to the Eucharistic banquet.
His provision has come in varied forms, varying as his progressive revelation has developed. In the First Reading from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, we hear a review of how the Lord had fed the people of Israel in the desert as they made their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God provided manna and water from a rock to prevent them from dying of hunger or thirst. Their physical needs were met so they could learn that they had spiritual needs as well, needs that only God could satisfy. “Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.” (more…)
My own story of involvement in stewardship began in my younger years growing up in Ireland. My mom and dad both lived out stewardship in our parish, but, of course, nobody called it such back then. One simply did what was expected in taking care of the parish. Even so, it wasn’t without some real wrinkles, which later caused me great grief and concern.
The way stewardship worked back in my father’s time was very simple and undefined. Each year at harvest time, my dad would bring his sack of potatoes to the parish priest as part of his gift to the upkeep of the pastor. He would do likewise with the newly harvested turf (he saved peat for the fire). On occasion, he was known to steal one of mother’s hens or turkeys, (mother called him “The Fox”) and bring it to the priest’s house. When grass and shrubs were to be trimmed, or cleaning was needed in the parish hall, the parish priest would ask the men of the parish to come and do this for the church. Dad and my brothers were always part of that effort. When dinners or events were planned for the hall, mother was always involved in that. That was how “time” and “talent” was practiced then.
The part that caused me to wonder then, and gave me grief later, had to do with how they managed the “treasure” part. (more…)
With the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God’s revelation of himself was complete. The early Christians maintained their faith that there is only one God, yet realized that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were distinct from each other. Several centuries of theological reflection were necessary for the Church to define the doctrine as we know it.
But even as the Church refined her understanding of God’s internal life as one God in three Persons, she proclaimed God’s nature as revealed in Scripture. God had revealed to Moses that he is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and rich in kindness. Then the Christian revelation proclaimed, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16).
Loving and giving are the results of God’s character, and we’re to grow more like him as our spiritual life matures. We should ask ourselves how much we can give of our time, our talent, and our treasure, and still fulfill our other responsibilities, not how little. Then our souls will be growing toward the likeness of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – whose nature is to love and to give.
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, usually shortened to Trinity Sunday, comes each year a week after Pentecost. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, God’s revelation of himself was complete. It is the one feast that celebrates God’s own divine being – the others all celebrate historical events – Jesus’ Birth or Transfiguration, for example.
The apostles and the other first Christians were Jewish, like Jesus himself, and held fast to the Old Testament revelation that there is only one God. But they also came to know that Jesus was more than just an amazing leader. They realized that he was God in human form, and that realization was sealed by his Resurrection. And when the Holy Spirit came upon them after the Ascension, they recognized that God was still working among them, even though Jesus had gone to heaven. (more…)
Impatience could possibly be the greatest enemy of the stewardship way of life. Impatience causes people to give up too soon. Impatience creates doubt, fear and insecurity. Impatience provokes impulsive decisions that most likely won’t be best for a person, and the decisions that are made often result in regrets that can last a long time. Impatience can challenge a person’s prayer life so much so that it can impact our trust in God, His mercy and even His love. Impatience makes one suspicious of the stewardship way of life, blinding one to seeing God’s grace working in His people. I am sure that much more could be said about the pitfalls or challenges of impatience. From personal experience, I am absolutely convinced of the destructive nature of impatience, and the negative impact it has on authentic discipleship. Therefore, I am confident in proposing that impatience is a problem for the stewardship way of life. (more…)
Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Season with the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the infant Church. Although the work of the Holy Spirit had been evident before then, Pentecost marked his coming in a new and powerful way. The apostles were transformed from a small band of frightened followers into a bold and energized company prepared to take Jesus Christ to the whole world.
The Church is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, who guides and strengthens the Church. He comes to all the baptized, not only to the ordained. We have different roles and different gifts, yet all come from the same Spirit. They are not given for our own individual satisfaction but to be used to build up the whole Church.
As we celebrate the coming of the Spirit on Pentecost, let us ask for guidance as to what commitments of our talents and gifts we should make as faithful stewards, and then for the strength to fulfill what we’ve committed to.