"We received life not to bury it, but to put it into play; not to keep it, but to give it. Whoever is with Jesus knows that the secret to possessing life is to give it.”
This tweet from Pope Francis captures the essence of stewardship. Like everything in the life of a Christian, stewardship is rooted in our relationship with Jesus. Having encountered the Risen Lord and committed to following him as his disciple, we are called by Jesus to embrace freely a life of radical generosity. Our gratitude for the gift of eternal life won for us on the cross — and for our intellect, talents, opportunities and every blessing — is meant to lead to a life of joyful giving and service.
In my own walk of faith, I have come to realize that every aspect of my life, even my very existence, is God’s gift. There is nothing I could ever do to earn or deserve even one moment of life. Every joy and suffering, challenge and opportunity, my intellectual gifts and limitations, physical talents and disabilities, relationships, material possessions and everything else have been given to me as a gift, either directly by God or through the generosity of others.
The realization that I am the recipient of such superabundant generosity fills me with joy and gratitude. I can only ask, “How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?” (Psalm 116:12).
The answer is rooted in the very gifts with which I have been blessed. Christ calls us to make a gift to God of all that we are and all that we have. As disciples of Jesus, who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7), we are called to loosen our grasp on all we possess. Recognizing that God is Lord of all, we joyfully take up our role as stewards. God entrusts to us the care of the earth, our families and friends, the poor and those on the margins of society, as well as the proper use of our material wealth, our time and capabilities, and all the rest.
With Scripture, especially the Gospels, and the teachings of the church as our guide and the Holy Spirit as our light, we discern in prayer how best to use God’s gifts in service of others and for the greater glory of God.
We must practice this process of discernment and stewardship daily. How I spend the next hour may have far-reaching consequences for me and for others. God is calling us to exercise our stewardship in matters large and small, in the ordinary and routine as well as the grand and consequential events of our lives. In all things, we are called to pour ourselves out in joyful imitation of Christ.
And, as Jesus tells us, “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6:38).
Deacon Pierce Murphy is the Archdiocese of Seattle’s executive director of stewardship and development.
Read the Spanish version of this column.
Northwest Catholic - May 2020