Live out the baptismal call by putting faith into action

One of the great myths among many Catholics today is regarding the notion of stewardship. When the
word comes up at Mass in the homily, frequently what goes through a person’s mind is the thought,
“Here comes another talk about money.” One can easily derive such a thought because often times,
stewardship has been related to or connected to asking for money or an increased giving. Yes, there is a
connection, but to think of stewardship only in regards to money is to greatly diminish what it means to
be a good steward. To think that stewardship is all about money is a huge myth!

All of you are very important in the life of your parish community. I don’t think most Catholics realize
just how much they are needed. You are not just another parish member but an integral part of the body
of Christ. Do you know just how crucial you are?

At the very heart of the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization is helping others to answer their call
to discipleship in the service of God and his church. “Each of us — clergy, religious, lay person;
married, single; adult, child — has a personal vocation. God intends each one of us to play a unique role
in carrying out his divine plan. The challenge then, is to understand our role — our vocation — and to
respond generously to this call from God. Christian vocation entails the practice of Stewardship.”
These words come from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on
Stewardship and are very important for each of us as we seek to follow the Lord’s call in our lives,
living out our personal call to discipleship. Another way to interpret this is to say that in a Catholic
parish, the idea of volunteerism should not exist. Volunteerism connotes that we can choose to share our
time and talents or we can choose not to. Again from the USCCB pastoral letter, “For Christians
though, the only choice we have is whether we want to live out our baptismal call, our life in Christ. The
laity are active (or called to be active) collaborators in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, sharing in his
saving work.” Therefore, it is not about volunteering but about discipleship.
To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, a certain way of life is required. “If anyone wishes to come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will
lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole
world yet lose or forfeit himself” (Luke 9:23-25)? As one can see, discipleship is not about volunteering
but about surrendering our lives and all aspects of it to the Lord.

  1. As members of his church, to be a follower of Jesus, to be his servant has a few implications:
    Mature disciples make a conscious decision to follow Jesus, no matter what the cost.
  2. Christian disciples experience ongoing conversion — life-shaping changes of mind and heart that deepen their commitment in serving the Lord.
  3. Christian stewards respond in a particular way to the call to be a disciple. Stewardship has the power to shape and mold our understanding of our lives and the way in which we live. Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ naturally leads to the practice of stewardship. It is what we do after we say “I believe.”
  4. Jesus’ disciples or Christian stewards recognize God as the origin of life, the giver of freedom, and the source of all things. Jesus’ disciples are grateful for the gifts they have received and are eager to use them to show their love for God and for one another.
  5. Discipleship and stewardship are linked realities and make up the fabric of a Christian life in which each day is lived in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord.

No matter what age we are, if we are to fulfill our mission, our personal vocation, stewardship must be
an integral part of that role. Therefore, stewardship is not about money. Stewardship is about receiving
all of God’s gifts (time, talent, and treasure) gratefully, cultivating them responsibly, sharing them
lovingly in justice with others, and then, returning them with increase to the Lord.

In the Sunday readings these past few weeks, Jesus has challenged us to reflect upon how we are living
out our call to discipleship. He wants to awaken our hearts and minds to an active faith, challenging us
to seek the things of heaven and turning away from the worldly things in our culture, which consume
our lives here on earth. “Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be” (Luke 12:34).

Jesus’ sacrifice was a sign of his gratitude, praise and trust in God. Jesus gave from his substance, not
from what was left over at the end of the day. Sacrifice means giving from our substance so that we can
be changed by our giving. Our sharing in his Paschal mystery brings us to see that our sacrifices
represent our gratitude, praise, and trust in God. The offering of a significant portion of our time, talent
and treasure is also a sign of giving the whole of our lives to God. Then our lives are transformed by this

In the end, we will be judged, not by how much we have accomplished or how much we have
accumulated; not by how famous or important we have become; but by how faithful to Christ we were in
putting our faith into action.