When we recognize that everything is a gift from God shared with us freely and lovingly, our natural response is to reciprocate. In the Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains that: “As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord.” The concept of stewardship is that we serve as caretakers–not owners–of God’s bounty.
Stewardship, therefore, is our gift back to God in appreciation for His providence and mercy. We would have nothing without His generosity. With thanks, we give back to Our Creator a small percentage of what we have been awarded. In order for our offering to represent the best possible gift and our top priority, we give from our sustenance and not from our surplus. We trust that what remains will be more than sufficient to sustain us.
We often associate stewardship with time, talent, and treasure. For the gift of our lives, for all of time that God freely gives to us, and for the promise of eternal salvation, we return a portion of that time to God through prayer and execution of His good works. In gratitude for all of the talents with which we are blessed, we use those skills to benefit others, to benefit the world, and to benefit God’s eternal Kingdom. For the gift of our treasure, we share our wealth and earthly goods with the Church, with worthy causes, and with those in need.
When we consider material creation, the Bible reminds us that God created the world, but He entrusted it to human beings. As Christian stewards, we must cultivate and protect our planet, our natural resources, the environment, and all life. The Second Vatican Council teaches us that through our works–regardless of our vocations–we build up both our world and the Kingdom of God. In this way, we partner with God to carry out our share of this divine and human collaboration for the benefit of creation.
Being a good steward is following the path of Jesus Christ. Although it is not easy, it is rewarding. God promises many blessings for disciples who share their gifts accordingly. In addition to the reward of eternal salvation, He provides His care and protection for us. Good stewards experience inner peace, personal fulfillment, love, and happiness.
“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). When we receive the gift of faith, it is our responsibility to spread that good news as collaborators and cooperators in the continuance of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We are called as stewards of the Church to carry out the mission of proclaiming, teaching, serving, and sanctifying. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19).
As we enter into Lent, let us embrace this invitation to full participation as disciples of Christ through our actions as prudent stewards. Psalm 116:12 asks, “How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?” Please reflect upon that question, and share your insights with the group by posting a comment. Best wishes to you and your loved ones for the many graces of this season!