My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May the Peace of the Lord be with you.
As you read this I should be recouping from my back surgery. I am writing you this letter before I leave for the hospital so as to make it easier for Fr. Sanish Mathew since he is new to the parish and to parish ministry.
Today, Deacon Albert and Deacon Freddie will be sharing with you what being a good steward means to them; and all of us will be challenged to make a commitment to adopt Stewardship. They will also be asking you to make a pledge for this coming year so as to help us make a budget that reflects the projected income and expenses for the year. Please remember that the tithe that the Lord asks of us in the scriptures is 10% of our income. If you cannot pledge a tithe, please pledge whatever amount that you think to which you can be faithful. The budget for the 2018 fiscal year will be based on the total amount that is pledge.
To understand what we are being challenged to do, we must understand what stewardship really is. The Gospel message invites all of us who are baptized into the Body of Christ to follow a different path – a road less traveled. As a people of faith and members of this Christian community of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, we are called to live differently. As Christians, the road less traveled is a continuing spiritual journey – a journey that includes living as Christian Stewards.
For Christian Stewards, Stewardship becomes a way of life embracing all areas of life. It is a central theme of the Bible, which tells us that we are accountable to God for all the gifts of time, talent, and treasure that God entrusts to us for our lifetime.
Sometimes, Stewardship is misunderstood. It should not be interpreted as a way for the parish to “raise money.” It isn’t a program, an appeal or a financial quick fix. Stewardship is deeply personal and spiritual. Stewardship emphasizes the personal need of each of us to return to God a truly grateful portion of our time, talent, and treasure, in thanksgiving for all the good things God has given us. All our gifts and possessions come from God. In many ways a Stewardship Lifestyle is a dramatic departure from our consumer culture that can emphasize and celebrate self, wealth, the material and individualism. As a people of faith who share in the Baptism of the Lord, we are called to share, serve others and be part of a worshipping community called a parish.
It has been said that the first and most precious gift that we have received from God is our time. There is so much work to be done, and there is no time to waste! Service to one’s Church and community consists of offering one’s time to serve the poor, volunteer at school or religious education program, be a reader at Mass, be a Eucharistic Minister, be a youth minister, volunteer to clean in around the church and school.
Examine how you use time. For a week, keep track of how you use your time. Note time spent with family, at work, on the phone, etc. The time spent on each activity should reflect its importance to you. Set Goals. Think about what you want to achieve with your life. Write down your goals. Be sure to define your goals clearly, or it’s easy to lose sight of them. Make a plan. Make specific plans on how to achieve your goals. Use time effectively. Set aside some time each day for personal and family prayer.
The second gift from God is your unique talents. When the Lord brought you into this world, He blessed you with unique, individual talents that can serve our Church and community. Use your gifts, your talents, to help change the lives of others. Develop your talents. God-given talents are a wonderful blessing. And, developing your talents can be a source of fulfillment. Rejoice in your talents. God has given you unique gifts. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Wisdom comes from appreciating your talents and accepting their limitations. Use your talents. Giving stewards use their talents to improve others’ lives. Follow Jesus’ example and use your gifts to reach out to others. For example: feed the homeless, sing in one of the several choirs at Sunday Mass, bring you musical instrument and join one of the “church bands,” take care of a flowerbed around the church, care for the sick and home bound, or join the Life Teen Core.
Wonderful opportunities are available to volunteer your time and your unique talent. On a practical level, the parish can benefit substantially with many volunteer projects that save financial resources for the parish. How do you use the financial resources with which God has blessed you? He certainly wants you to provide for your needs and those of your family. He does not want you to live in poverty. He wants you to spend your money wisely. He also wants you to give back to Him from what He has given to you. In the scriptures, God tells us that He wants us to tithe, to give back to Him 10% of what he gives to us.
We have to be careful not to fall into a line of thinking which the world holds out as “the” example. It goes like this: “What I have is mine! After all, I earned it. I can do with my money as I want.” The truth is that every cent we have is a gift from God. Didn’t He give you the talent that you have to do the work that you do to earn the salary that you are paid?
In reality, our money, like our time and talent, is a gift from God. So use it as He wants. Be a good steward.
I love you,