Tag Archives: stewardship
Naaman the Syrian and the Samaritan were both lepers, healed by the power of God even though they were foreigners. But their response of gratitude was more important than their nationalities or their disease.
Gratitude is the foundation of stewardship. Our thankfulness to God for our life and our spiritual healing through Christ as well as for all the gifts of time, talent, and treasure we have received should motivate our entire life. Or will we be like the other nine lepers who were healed, and not bother to give thanks? Our response will determine the sort of stewards we are.
Permanently etched in my memory is a painting done by the famous Italian artist Caravaggio of the “Conversion of St. Paul.” It is one of Caravaggio’s greatest works, telling the story that changed the face of Christianity and the Catholic Church. I have read the account of Paul’s conversion many times in the New Testament and celebrated the feast day of that event on Jan. 25 for many years. The story can be read in Acts 9: 1-31.
St. Paul’s original name was Saul, and he was feared by the early Christians. Before his conversion, Saul’s mission was to eliminate Christianity by persecuting the early Church. How does one change from that to become one of the most important ministers of the gospel of all time? It is conversion at its very best. The man who was Saul became Paul at the Lord’s own choosing. And it is important for us at St. John’s to know this story, and to realize that the potential Christ saw in St. Paul is not unlike the potential that lies within each of us to be Christ’s disciple.
Sept. 26, 2010 —Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
What kind of steward are you? The Gospel reading from Luke 16 really challenges us. Oh, we may try to get around it by maintaining that we aren’t stewards, that we’ve never committed ourselves to the practice of stewardship. But, like it or not, you are a steward. You are responsible to God for how you use what he has entrusted to you. You may be a good steward, or a bad steward, or a mediocre steward, but you are a steward. So, what kind of steward are you?
I find it interesting to note that in the Gospels, Jesus never gives a straight answer to a question posed to Him. Actually, He did give a straight answer once, when the rich young man asked Him which was the greatest commandment and then followed up with another question, “What more must I do to be saved?”
Evidently, the rich young man did not like the direct answer Jesus gave him to the follow-up question, because the Gospel says that “he went away sad, because he had many possessions” (Mt 19: 22).
At our most recent Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference, Fr. Jim Golka — the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in North Platte, Neb. — gave a wonderful presentation on how they have successfully developed stewardship at St. Patrick. Here, I would like to share with you my recollection of a small portion of Fr. Golka’s presentation, focusing on his comments regarding the mission of a parish.
Sept. 12, 2010 — Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Summary: The parable of the Prodigal Son illustrates God’s loving and generous character. The father gave to the younger son, who wasted what he had received, but then forgave him and welcomed him home. The father also forgave the older son, who had stayed home but resented his father’s generosity. We are called to imitate the father by sharing what has been given to us and by welcoming all who are seeking God.
The fifteenth chapter of St. Luke contains three parables of Jesus, including the one probably the best known of all, that of the Prodigal Son. We’re all familiar with the story: A man has two sons. The younger asks for his share of the inheritance while his father is still alive. He goes off and spends it all in wild living. Poverty-stricken, he decides to return home, because his father’s servants are better off than he is. His father welcomes him, forgiving him and restoring him to the family. The older brother is resentful of his younger brother’s welcome and refuses to join the family celebration.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a five-part series by Msgr. Jim Costigan on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
In the fourth installment in my series on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship — the 2004 document published by the stewardship office of the Diocese of Wichita — we take an in-depth look at the third pillar: prayer.
Along with the Four Pillars of Stewardship, we also make constant reference to the three Ts of stewardship, recognizing that to truly live as a stewardship people we must give God the first fruits of our Time, our Talent, and our Treasure. It is easy for us to see the concrete reality of the latter two. To give God our Talents, we must first recognize with what talents He has blessed us, and then use those talents for His greater glory. On the same token, our money is something concrete, and when we recognize it as a gift from God, we are to give a certain amount back to Him. For many of us, it is easy to understand what it means to give God our talent and our treasure. But what does it mean to give God a portion of our time? This idea is much harder to grasp, and, yet, giving to God the first fruits of our time is just as important as the other two. In fact, if we understand and implement it properly, our stewardship of time will serve as the very foundation from which our stewardship of talent and stewardship of treasure bear fruit.
During a recent visit I made to a parish (name and city are withheld), I had a good laugh after I pulled into the parking lot.
As I came to the beginning of the walkway that led to the parish campus — the church included — there were the typical parking spaces reserved for handicap parking on one side of the entrance. On the other side were seven parking spaces all “reserved” for staff members. And to ensure there would be no confusion on anyone’s part, there were six-foot tall metal poles cemented into the asphalt with large signs on each space that read, RESERVED STAFF PARKING.
August 22, 2010 — Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
You’ve had the experience, haven’t you, of coming into a room full of strangers, all of whom seem to already know each other? Most people feel dismay as they look around, trying to figure out where they should go and what they should do. What a wonderful feeling it is when someone comes over, speaks to you and welcomes you, and then leads you over to meet other people.
It’s something like that experience for all the peoples of the world in the Kingdom of God, according to the Scripture readings for today. Even though God gave his revelation to his chosen people, the Jews, the message was not for them alone.
Once again Jesus shocked his hearers, and he continues to shock us today: “Sell your belongings and give alms.” That sounds reckless and goes against all we have heard about financial planning.
But then Jesus goes on to talk about real wealth, “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” An inexhaustible treasure, safe where no one can steal it from us! And because it’s in heaven, we don’t have to worry about leaving it to someone who might spend it foolishly (Ecclesiastes 2:21) or worry that God will prevent us from keeping it all for ourselves (Luke 12:16-21).
As the leaders of a stewardship parish, we are charged to foster a community of disciples. It is not as though as the leaders we must simply direct our fellow parishioners as to what they ought to do. Rather, we are called to serve them, to help them grow in faith, and to help them better serve the Lord. We want our parish to be thriving. We want stewardship to be lived out in the lives of our parishioners and, in turn, for stewardship to fuel everything we do as a parish. But this does not begin with some abstract idea about how stewardship should be lived at our particular parishes. Rather, it begins with the God-given gifts of our parishioners.
August 1, 2010 — Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
How could Jesus say what’s reported in the reading from chapter 12 of St. Luke’s Gospel? It sounds like he’s attacking a major foundation of society. “Though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
But it’s not riches that are being attacked, but the attitude that views them as important only for one’s own personal use and trusts in them as the source of security. The response of a good steward is the best antidote to the spiritual poison of the grasping position taken by the rich man in Jesus’ parable.
One aspect of the lesson presented in these Scripture passages is stated clearly in the reading from Ecclesiastes. If you have labored hard and accumulated much, you have no control over what will be done with what you leave behind after you die. And the effort of accumulating a vast sum tends to bring stress and anxiety to your life.
The famous author Gilbert K. Chesterton supposedly once said, “Coincidences are God’s way of staying anonymous.” Some have told me they have no time for coincidences and even regard them as unimportant. There may have been a time when I might have agreed with them. But since a “conversion” to the stewardship way of life, coincidences have become cherished experiences for which I thank God. And rightly so! While God stays anonymous, coincidences are ways God interacts with the world He created. Are we not grateful for this mysterious intervention?
I first read this quote in The Catholic Spirit, the diocesan newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The article was about an acquaintance of mine from the seminary. Fr. Peter Christianson had been a few years ahead of me, but now had been named and ordained a bishop assigned to the Diocese of Superior, Wis. He recalled G.K. Chesterton’s quote at his ordination to the episcopacy and, since then, I also have relied on the wisdom of that statement. When it comes to the stewardship way of life, that statement couldn’t be truer.
July 18, 2010 — Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Stewardship includes sharing with others the gifts God has entrusted to us, the U.S. bishops remind us in Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. In response to what God has shared with us, we in turn share with those around us, both old familiar friends and neighbors and with those new to us. God invites all people into his Church, the People of God. As his disciples, we ought to follow his example and carry out his will – thus we have the responsibility to welcome all people into the fellowship of the Church.
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a five-part series by Msgr. Jim Costigan on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship.
“Jesus not only calls people to him but also forms them and sends them out in his service.” — From Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response
For my latest in this series on The Pillars of Parish Stewardship, we take a closer look at the second pillar: formation. Formation is the process of studying Christ’s teachings and incorporating them deeply into our lives. It is a lifelong effort by which we “put on Christ” (Rom 13:14) and are “transformed by the renewal of our minds” (Rom 12:2).