Stewardship is full of joy - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Stewardship is full of joy

Imagine for a moment that a couple you know well leaves with you their precious jewel of a child to watch over for the weekend.

What an awesome responsibility this would be — and what happiness to be able to take part, if only for a couple of days, in this child’s life and growth. If you’re like me, you’d be a bit nervous and extra-cautious about making sure that all went well; that the child was safe and sound and well-fed; that you used every ounce of patience, creativity and love to make sure the child’s experience was good.

If all went well, the child, too, would benefit from this experience of having another nurturing adult in his or her life who contributed a little bit of himself or herself toward the child’s future. When the parents took the child back home, you’d experience perhaps a mix of relief, longing for more time and joy at having had this wonderful presence with you.

In a very similar way, God has handed over to us, if only for a time, his intricate creation so lovingly crafted — the earth, the atmosphere, the mountains and oceans, right down to the smallest microbe and grain of sand. More, God has planted within the larger macrocosm the mini-creations that are each of our lives: all the people we love, all the things we own and all that we have been given.

And God, the proud parent, has said, “Care for this. Keep it safe. Nurture it. Tend it. I am counting on you.” Recognizing that this is no easy task, our loving God gives us individually or collectively all the tools we need, whether these be wealth and influence or richness of spirit, intelligence, skilled hands, the discipline of prayer, the ability to persevere regardless of the obstacle.

When we do as God asks — when we are good stewards and use the tools God has given us to repair, replenish and build up for ourselves and others — the harvest is plentiful indeed. The blessings seem to multiply in our own and others’ lives. It is like carefully tending a rose in spring and then watching the bush, as if in thanks, bursting forth for us in fragrant summer bloom.

In 2 Corinthians, St. Paul writes, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. … The One who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.”

When we have done this well, when we have made others lives a little better or built something that adds to the richness of our lives or the lives of others, don’t we look at this accomplishment with pure joy? The Scriptures, as well, tell us that God smiles upon our efforts and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

It is this trinity of joy — of God, ourselves and of people who benefit by our good stewardship — that we have highlighted in the name chosen for our new diocesan stewardship-education effort. This effort, which we are calling “The Joy of Stewardship,” will be launched this coming weekend at St. Patrick Church, Victor, during our annual Stewardship Day.

We have tried to stress in “The Joy of Stewardship” that a life of good stewardship is not only about tending to our own lives and blessings, but sharing, helping, pitching in, so that others might flourish. That call to serve God and help others is at the heart of what Jesus meant when he gave the great commandment that we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” and “to love your neighbor as yourself.”

At one point or another as “The Joy of Stewardship” unfolds in our diocese, you will likely see a video presentation created to help people understand this way of life. In the video, people of all walks of life throughout our diocese give powerful witness to the life-giving and life-changing rewards of accepting the call to be good stewards for God.

Whether they lovingly tend the altar cloths or serve as extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, whether they sacrifice time and lend their talents to parish ministries or committees or help the community or the church through financial gifts, these generous people speak about the “boomerang effect,” if you will, of a life of generous giving and nurturing of God’s creation.

I invite you to this life, and I pray that you, too, will experience the joy of stewardship.

Peace to all.

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