A Disciple’s Call: Stewardship

Rev. Lam T Le, Pastor

“Each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10

Stewardship is a message which will maintain and advance the positive momentum of the new parish of SJP2. What is stewardship?

A couple of years ago, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a wonderful document titled, Stewardship: a Disciple’s Response. The document identifies a Christian steward as one who generously gives of time, talent, and treasure. 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. Christian stewardship leads to conversion –handing our life to the Lord who calls us to fullness of life.

A priest who once severed in a parish for more than fifty years said: “a lively parish is one that all, from children to seniors understand that they are called to be disciples of Jesus, i.e., faithful stewards.” No doubt, it is true!

Stewardship of Time
People often say: “Time is money”. This statement is not quite right. Time is much more valuable than money! We all have had the experience of wasting money on poor purchases and can usually recover from that, but not so with time. Time once spent can never be recovered. Every hour is precious. At every moment, we need to make sure that we take care of things that matter.

Stewardship of time requires us to look at our lives as an opportunity to serve the Lord and to build up his Kingdom. It acknowledges that time is a gift from God and sets a portion daily to give God thanks.

There are 24 hours in a day and we spend much of our time working, in order to provide the material needs for our family and others. We also spend time resting and refreshing our body and spirit through recreation and social events. It is important to spend time on all of these things but don’t forget to spend time with God, through worship and doing the Lord’s work. If you already tithe 5% of your treasure to the Lord and His works, consider using the same calculation to set aside time to worship God and to do His work. For Catholics, the weekly priority must be, first and foremost, to attend Sunday Mass.

Stewardship of time is very important, if not the most important among the three categories. All believers — children and adults, men and women, single and married — are called to be responsible with their gifts of time.

Stewardship of Talent
Every human person is bestowed with certain talents from God. Have you ever said, “He has a natural gift of communication” or “She has a talent for music” or “This child has the gift of art”, etc.?

Stewardship of talent simply invites us to look at these natural gifts given by God. Sometimes a person might need a member of their family, community of faith, or a good friend to help recognize their talents. We must identify the gifts, nurture the gifts and return them1 to the Lord with an increase.

So often, people go about making a living with their natural talents, which is fitting, wonderful and praiseworthy. Stewardship of talent, however, asks them to share their gifts as to glorify God and serve their fellow human beings. Just as every faithful servant is asked to set aside a portion of their time to worship God and do His works, the same principle applies to the area of talent. Consider sharing 5% of the use of your talents in such a way that glorifies God and the services of His people. The thinking is as simple as this:

If you have a gift of cooking, spend at least one hour a week at a soup kitchen feeding the hungry and those who are in need. If you have a gift of finance and numbers, volunteer to be a member of the Finance Council of the Parish to ensure the accountability and provide checks-and-balances to the financial side of your community of faith. If you play a musical instrument and are gifted at music and singing, spend a portion of your talent with the parish choir and liturgical music program. The list can go on and on, but the above examples give all an idea.

Any parish that involves the gifts of parishioners will be lively and faith-filled.

Stewardship of Treasure
Treasure, particularly money, is more personal than probably anything else in our lives. We don’t speak in public about how much money we have in the bank or what our house is worth. It is just too personal. Jesus knows how personal it is and thus spent half of His ministry warning people about material possessions. Faith in the Lord Jesus transforms all aspects of our lives, including this very personal one.

In speaking frequently about this issue, Jesus reiterated the teaching of Moses:

“When you have come into the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you as a heritage and have taken possession and settled in it, you shall take some first fruits of the various products of the soil which you harvest from the land the LORD, your God, is giving you; put them in a basket and go to the place with the LORD, your God, will choose as the dwelling place for his name.” (Det 26:1-2).

Stewardship of Treasure then invites us to ask this question: What are “some first fruits” of our labor, resulting from the blessings that we have received from the Lord? Let’s offer some first fruits as a way of giving thanks to the Lord. Remember Scripture speaks of the “first fruits” not the “leftover fruits”. Stewardship of Treasure is not about awaiting until one has a surplus to give. It is not an equal gift but equal sacrifice. Jesus reminds us in his observance of the widow putting money in the temple treasury (Mk 12:41-44).

Conclusion
A total stewardship parish consists of parishioners who worship God joyfully, give sacrificially, and serve others gladly. We want our Saint John Paul II Parish to continue on this wonderful path. We invite all to be Christian Stewards of Time, Talent, and Treasure. We want all to be faithful stewards so as to hear from our Savior on the last day: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come and share your master’s joy.” (Mt 25:21).
Amen.

“In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts!”
– Pope Francis, March 19, 2013