Stewardship of talent is frequently associated with volunteering. To volunteer is to choose to donate your talents and time in recognition of a need, with an inclination toward social responsibility over personal gain. We advance from volunteer to steward when we freely, lovingly, and deliberately choose to dedicate our abilities to God in thanks for everything we are and everything we hold. Christian stewards have a unique opportunity to imitate Jesus through humble service and to shine his light for the benefit of those struggling in the darkness.
Once we say “yes” to Jesus, we become his disciples. That discipleship involves a lifelong spiritual conversion. Transformed by the love of God, we no longer live simply for ourselves. In the 2003 Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops explains: “Beginning in conversion, change of mind and heart, this commitment is expressed not in a single action, nor even in a number of actions over a period of time, but in an entire way of life. It means committing one’s very self to the Lord.” This metanoia drives us away from sin and toward God. Saint Paul reveals, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
In gratitude for all we are given, we serve as prudent stewards of God’s gifts. We use the talents with which we are blessed to benefit others, to benefit the world, and to benefit God’s eternal Kingdom. Saint Peter encourages us: “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). Like good disciples, good stewards are obedient to the will of our heavenly Father.
We open the month of October with the Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32), in which Saint Matthew cautions us to obey the Father’s will. Unlike many of the more cryptic parables, this scenario is straightforward and contains commentary by Jesus at the end of the story.
We learn some valuable lessons through this parable:
Actions speak louder than words. It is simply not enough to say “yes” to God. We have to commit ourselves to actually doing what He asks of us.
How we finish is more important than how we start. Many of us make mistakes, refuse God, give in to sin, or respond disrespectfully to His call. But we can be forgiven when we experience a change of heart, repent, do His will, and finish strong.
Jesus promises the Kingdom of God to those who are transformed in the way of righteousness. Tax collectors and prostitutes who reform their ways can reap their eternal rewards before chief priests and elders who do not internalize their need for repentance.
We all need humility to objectively examine ourselves and determine which son we truly resemble. How are we living our lives? Do our deeds reflect the values we profess? What changes are necessary to reconcile any differences?