Every week I write about the power of practicing stewardship, a way of life that is rooted in gratitude and expressed in generosity of time, talent, and treasure. Those who take their call to stewardship seriously almost always experience a profound transformation and are surprised by how easy it has become to give. The catchphrase of stewardship—“we do not give to a need but have a need to give”—becomes a grounded reality in their lives and brings them unexpected joy.
But the flipside of stewardship is the benefit it provides to others, not merely in fulfilling a specific need but in bringing about the mission of the Church. As Father Andrew Kemberling writes in his book, Making Stewardship a Way of Life, stewardship “is a means to an end: evangelization” (OSV Publ’g 2009, 12). This is true because “the fruits of stewardship enable the parish to carry out its mission to “go and make disciples” (Id. 68).
Evangelization is not proselytization. Whereas the latter seeks conversion through crass coercion, the former simply shares the Christian message of love. As Pope Benedict explained, the Church “does not engage in proselytism. Instead she grows by ‘attraction,’ . . . just as Christ draws all to himself by the power of his love” (2007 Address to Latin American Bishops).
Through the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading at Mass today, the Lord promises that he “will gather the remnant of [his] flock from all the lands . . . , bring them back to their meadow,” and send a Messiah-King to them govern wisely. As Saint Paul suggests in the second reading, Christ is the promised one who has come to establish peace on earth and reconcile us to God and to one another, creating “one new person in place of two.”
Your acts of stewardship generosity therefore not only give your own life fulfillment and meaning but also serve to accomplish God’s will and purpose by attracting back to him those who have gone astray.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
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