In the beginning, was God. There was nothing other than God, and then God chose to create. God created everything; from the physical universe to the science that governs it. God created the animals that wander the planet, the plants that grow and the humans who reap the harvest. All has been created by God. And it is in recognizing this truth where we find the origins of stewardship.
Stewardship begins by acknowledging the fact that everything we have, our resources, our talents, our very life itself has been given to us without our earning it. Yes, we apply many of the gifts, but at their origins, everything is a gift. Think back to your upbringing: You were given life and consciousness without having earned it. You were then given a family who took care of you without any labor on your part. You were clothed and fed, you were educated and loved, simply because you existed. It was all gift. If we see this for what it is, we discover that everything is a gift. And when we have this recognition, we change how we use the gifts. We are merely stewards (or caretakers) of all that is given to us. It becomes our duty to turn to the source of all these gifts, namely God, to discover how we ought to use the gifts.
This is how we, as Catholics, approach the stewardship of all of our gifts. We first acknowledge that everything is a gift and then we turn to God in prayer to gain the wisdom to know how we should steward these many gifts. It is an ongoing conversation with God.
An analogy might be a teenager who receives his driver’s license. The use of the car is a gift to him and initially, his parents will allow him to use the car only a short distance; avoiding the freeway (especially 494 and 35W!). Then, he consults with his parents after successful driving and he is allowed to use the car on the freeway. He consults with his parents again and now he is required to go to the store to purchase food before he uses the car to visit his friends. Then later, he may be required to fill the car with gasoline (using his own money!). But it is always an ongoing conversation with his parents as to what is the proper way to use the gift of the car. And we should do this in prayer with our Father in heaven as we discern how we are to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us: Our time, our talent and our treasure.
This weekend, we begin our stewardship campaign. In consultation with the Stewardship Council of Nativity of Mary, we are approaching our stewardship campaign in a different way, but with the similar intent: To help all of us live out stewardship as a part of our Catholic faith. We will be separating the “treasure” portion from our “time and talent” portion, which will take place in January. Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing about the importance of stewardship of our treasure, the blessings that come from being a good steward of our finances, and how we can contribute to the financial health of our parish.
I invite you to be open and prayerful to a life of stewardship. First, recognize that all is a gift from God and then recognize that God is a loving Father who desires to help you use his gifts well for your good, the good of our parish and the good of the whole world. May God bless you all.
Fr. Nels Gjengdahl