Jesus teaches us not only that riches are to be despised, but they are also full of danger. They are the root of seducing evils and deceive the blind human mind by hidden deception. God rebukes rich fools who think only of their earthly wealth and boast in the abundance of their overflowing harvests. He says “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then who shall those things be which thou has provided?” The fool was rejoicing in his supplies when he would die that very night; one whose life was already failing was thinking about the abundance of his food. However, the Lord tells us that those who sell all their possessions and distribute them for the poor become perfect and complete. In doing so, they lay up treasures for themselves in Heaven. He says that those that follow him are not entangled by worldly possessions… accompany their possessions which they send to God. For such a reward, let us all prepare ourselves, learn to pray, and discern from our prayers what we should become… for He promises that all things will be added to those who seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.
In his famous work known as The Ladder of Divine Ascent, St. John Climacus writes how our life can be perfected in a union with Christ. He illustrates 30 steps that are necessary to reach Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Through these steps, we make changes in our lives that help us to become Christ-like, to experience Christian perfection which is to live just as Jesus did.
As we reflect upon these steps, let us focus our Stewardship efforts on Time, Talents and Treasures. Pray and consider how we can make a difference and let’s remember St. John’s guidance that we “live just as Jesus did” and exercise all of the gifts that God has provided to us. St. John’s theme is living our daily life for the Heavenly (which is everlasting) and not the earthly (which is temporary).
O holy Father John, with rivers of tears you have made the barren desert bloom, and with heartfelt sighings of repentance you have made your labors bear fruit a hundredfold. O Saint, pray to Christ our God for the Salvation of our souls. Amen.
Have you ever considered that Stewardship is necessary for individual Salvation?
Many verses in the Bible and reflection from the Holy Fathers clearly focus on the fact that we will be judged by how we use the gifts that God has given us. Stewardship is not limited to the financial aspect, the grounds, the buildings that encompass the Church property but all of the gifts that one has. It is a good Steward’s responsibility to care for everything that he or she has since it was provided by God to be used for His work.This is why we must consider Stewardship as spiritual and focus on our Time, Talents and Treasures.
2 Corinthians 9:6 – But this I say: He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully.
Luke 12:34 – For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Evening Vespers – Suddenly the Judge will come and the deeds of each will be revealed, but with fear, we cry out in the middle of the night, Holy, Holy , Holy art though O’ God, through the Theotokos have mercy on us
As we reflect on our commitment to God and the Church, let us consider how we use our gifts so that we can make a good account before the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ.
In Matthew 5:42-44, we reflect upon the verse “love your enemies and bless those who curse you.” When we think of Stewardship within daily life, how we act, or react, it is an area that deserves focus. From a business perspective, I personally find this difficult and challenging! St. Theophan the Recluse provides insight – “Real love is proved by our relationship with our enemies. Not only should slight and incidental annoyances not extinguish our love for others – neither should attacks, persecutions, misfortunes and deprivations, intentionally and maliciously inflicted. We must not only bless people but also do good to them and pray for them!” Something to think about and consider in our daily work.
I remember when I was a child, getting up early in the morning and going somewhere before the sun rose was a special moment. This was the same for my son, Christopher, when he was 11 years old. We woke up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning – a quick breakfast and then drove to Church. The day’s project focused on planting all new bushes, trees and flowers around the property. Not only was it fun to be up that early, but he thought it was great to be included. The volunteers were many – all Stewards – and the work was hard – planning, digging, removing, planting, fertilizing, mulching but what a great time we had.
The next day, as we walked past the gardens on the way to the Liturgy, Christopher stopped, looked at a section we worked on together and said “Dad, yesterday, I became a Steward and every day that I and others walk by the work we did, this will be my reminder” I tried to hide my tears – not sure how successful I was but I thanked God that at the age of 11, he now understood that Stewardship comes in many shapes and sizes and not just from a financial perspective.
St. John Chrysostom’s reflection on Ephesians… What then? Are we to give thanks for everything that befalls us? Yes; be it even disease, be it even penury. For if a certain wise man gave this advice in the Old Testament, and said, “Whatsoever is brought upon thee take cheerfully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate” – much more ought this to be the case in the New. Yes, even though thou know not the word, give thanks. For this is thanksgiving. But if thou give thanks when thou art in comfort and in affluence, in success and in prosperity, there is nothing great, nothing wonderful in that. What is required is, for a man to give thanks when he is in afflictions, in anguish, in discouragements. Utter no word in preference to this, “Lord, I thank thee.” And why do I speak of the afflictions of this world? It is our duty to give God thanks, even for hell itself, for the torments and punishments of the next world. For surely it is a thing beneficial to those who attend to it, when the dread of hell is laid like a bridle on our hearts. Let us therefore give thanks not only for blessings which we see, but also for those which we see not, and for those which we receive against our will.
Adversity is something we all face. How we respond is critical. We become angry, upset, discouraged and resentful. From St. John’s perspective, we must thank God for everything, including adversity, for either we have something to learn or God just needs to get our attention!
As we consider Stewardship throughout the Bible, reflect upon the urgency and obedience that we are called to when following Christ. The same urgency and obedience that is necessary as Stewards of our parish. We must become Stewards immediately, not next month, not when Church school starts, not at Christmas but as soon as possible as our Church depends on us. We must also be obedient with our Stewardship of Time, Talents and Treasures – not when we have a surplus of money, not during a vacation day, not when we receive our bonus and not until we can find the extra time but as soon as possible as the Church needs support for all of the ministries it provides. Throughout the summer months, find new ways to help your parish.