October is when the Church encourages us to think about stewardship as a scripturally rooted principle of our Faith. Stewardship is the care of something that does not inherently belong to a person, but is instead entrusted to him. Since we know that everything we have comes from God, we, therefore, must care for those gifts in a way that brings Him glory. As we head into the final months of the year, it is a good time for us to pause for some introspection and reflect on how well we have been faithful stewards of God’s gifts in the past year. Then, with thoughtful intention, we can look forward to how we might be better stewards of our gifts in the coming year.
Recall the Parable of the Talents (Matt 25:14-30), where a man leaves his possessions in the care of his servants “each according to his own ability.” When he returns, he finds that some of his servants invested the talents entrusted to them, which, as a result, multiplied the man’s wealth. One servant, however, buried his talent, which ultimately produced nothing but the anger of his master for being lazy and not even doing the bare minimum.
Likewise, we are all entrusted with gifts, which we generally categorize as time, talent, and treasure, “each according to his ability” to care for while we await our Master’s return. If we invest our gifts generously and wisely, they will multiply, giving greater glory to God by building up his kingdom on earth. Conversely, if we choose to bury our gifts or not use them well in our laziness, we will contribute little to the building up of the Kingdom. Like the master in the parable, Jesus will return one day and ask us how we were stewards of the gifts he entrusted to us.
As the scripture states, we are each given gifts according to our own ability, which implies that what each person has to offer of his or her time, talent, and treasure is different than any other person and, therefore, must continually be assessed and discerned. In other words, as you are entrusted with more, do you give more? If you have less than others, do you still give your best? Remember the poor widow who, despite giving only two coins, was commended by Jesus for giving more than the others because she gave all she had (see Mark 12:41-44).
These days, it seems we never have enough time to do things we have to do, much less the things we want to do. This sentiment can lead to prioritizing worldly concerns and to-do lists over spiritual and faith-based activities. When we allow ourselves to invert our priorities this way, we fail to see how God generously multiplies our time when we put Him first.
Our Church, and specifically, our parishes, cannot operate without the gift of time from parishioners. The programs, ministries, liturgies, decorations, planning, and all other activities occur because people put the time into making these things happen. However, very few people contribute to all parish activities compared to those who benefit from them. Of our own parishioners, approximately 18% are committed volunteers. However, rather than making this a point of shame, it should be understood as a point of opportunity and encouragement. If each family were to give just an hour more of their time per week to help in parish life, imagine the fruit that could grow!
Programs and ministries are good for our community, but spending time with God is the most important use of our time. Every moment we spend in Mass or in the Adoration Chapel with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is an opportunity for unimaginable gifts and graces. There is no better way to spend time than in direct communion with God. Consider what change might come about if you devoted your time to attending one extra Mass and one more hour in adoration, whether it be per week or even per month.
There are 168 hours in a week, and Jesus is patiently waiting for you to visit Him in each of those hours. Our parish has approximately 250 committed adorers to fill those hours, so He will not be left alone, which is wonderful. How much more wonderful would it be if every family (not even every individual) committed to one hour in adoration regularly? Our chapel would always be filled, and it would bring immense delight to our Lord, who has given us so much! Consider the gift of time entrusted to you and how you might stretch yourself a bit more to give some of that time back to God and His Church in thanksgiving for His glory.
Every single person has been given particular talents. Some people are good at administration, while others have artistic ability. You may be good with children, organization, hospitality, or physical strength. To use your talents for God’s glory, you need to honestly reflect on your abilities and be open to developing new ones. As we move through day-to-day life, we see people using their talents in various ways, many of which contribute to their very livelihood. However, how many people do we see using those same talents for the glory of God and the building up of His kingdom?
Very often, especially in parish life, there is no “want ad” asking people with particular skills to apply to volunteer for a specific activity. Often, it takes creativity to figure out where you might be most helpful. I will use myself as an example. Several years ago, I discerned, without being asked, that writing weekly articles for the bulletin was something I could offer. After having a few meetings, it was determined that this could be a valuable resource for the parish, and I have been doing so since. While my talent in this area may be subjective, it is something that I can do relatively well from the comfort of my own home, intending to bring as much glory to God as I can while helping others to come to know and love Him more deeply. Similarly, there is a need in the mission of the Church that you can fill. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what it is and help you overcome any obstacles.
Our gifts from God include our financial resources. Even if every dollar we have might be attributed to our hard work, it was only possible by the gifts God gave us to successfully do that work. Each time we put our financial resources back into the Church and faith-based charities, it is an act of thanksgiving for the money entrusted to us. In addition to time and talent, most of the programs and ministries the Church offers require money. Likewise, our physical church building and grounds need money to operate and maintain. Organizations that bring Catholic charity into the world to serve the poor and needy also require financial assistance.
Remember that our material possessions cannot follow us to Heaven. I heard a priest say in a homily that he had never seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached. Whatever time we take to consider investments and purchases ought to be met with the same consideration for how we tithe. Tithing does not amount to a specific percentage or dollar amount so much as an evaluation of personal generosity. You may not be called to give everything you have as the poor widow was, but you may be called to give just a little bit more without affecting your daily life. In our parish, just under 60% of parishioners give regular monetary donations to the parish. If every family gave just one dollar more per week – those who give $0 per week give $1, or those who give $1,000 per week give $1,001 – imagine how the money could be used to help our parish, our community at large, and the greater Church in the world. Those investments will pay off infinitely when we realize how our resources will have contributed to leading souls to Heaven.
Take some time to thoughtfully evaluate how you are a good steward of the gifts God has entrusted to you and identify where you can stretch yourself a little more. In faith, trust that all your investments of time, talent, and treasure will be multiplied.
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