During this time of year, I think about Stewardship and how I can do more, especially during Great Lent. I set some goals, involve my family and try to make a difference. The key is in the action… all of the goals, objectives and planning won’t mean much without the execution. In Father Tom Hopko’s book, The Lenten Spring, he says “According to the Scriptures, the giving of one’s possessions to satisfy the need of others is the most concrete expression of faith and of love. A person who claims to believe in God but does not help the needy has no living faith.”
This is confirmed through James 2:14-17: 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
My goal this year: Take action!
I was reading a book that focused on how unique we are – each and every one of us created by God to be different, to be special, in His image and likeness. When we were born, there was no other individual exactly like us. We will mature and develop skills and characteristics that will also be very unique. Whether they are as parents, business associates, teachers or tradesmen – we are all different.
When we consider Stewardship, we can also be very unique in the way we give of our Time, Talents and Treasures.
As a child, I remembered Stewards of our Church – each one helped the Church in his or her own way. My Aunt and her friends were cooking at least three days a week. Preparing for bake sales, funeral luncheons, wedding celebrations – a task that required hard work but it always seemed easier when they were working together. The one memory I have is that everyone was unique, and at times, a bit different, but everyone worked together with a common purpose and single goal – supporting their Church. Let us, as well, remember how different we are and appreciate the common goals we share.
The Orthodox Gospel reading for this Sunday is about the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). Its primary focus is humility. While reflecting on these verses, we are asked to consider which person do we typically act like? Are we humble in our actions with family, at work or with fellow parishioners?
In Father Alexander Schmemann’s book entitled Great Lent-Journey to Pascha – he says “Humility – be it individual or corporate, ethnic or national – is viewed as a sign of weakness, as something unbecoming of a real man. Even our Churches – are they not imbued with the same spirit of the Pharisee? Do we not want our every contribution. every good deed, all that we do for the Church to be acknowledged, praised and publicized?” God asks us to consider our Stewardship through prayer and focus on how we will be judged as stewards of what He provides. This should be done with humility, between the Steward and God.
As I was reading Scriptures, I noted several reference points related to our salvation and good works. Faith is great, but it must be accompanied by good works – we will be judged based on our good works – our use of Time and Talents are measured by our good works. Reflecting on Stewardship, I thought about the many times I planned to participate in charitable events, but either didn’t – or did, and grumbled about it. I read a homily from St. John Chrysostom who said “Do you see that our part is necessary, not merely works, but zealous; we should with all alacrity, with a becoming earnestness, go forward in virtue.”
In other words, all of our Stewardship efforts must be done with zeal, energy, happiness and a positive attitude. Something to think about – I know I will!
One of the Scripture readings for last week (Luke 2:20-21, 40-52) portrays Jesus’ separation from His parents and when asked, He simply says “Didn’t you know I’d be about My Father’s business?”
It is our business! No matter what our career choice is, we must also take responsibility for His business. This is our Stewardship – using our Time, Talents and Treasures to do God’s work. What does this mean? Matthew 25: 31-46 describes our responsibility as Stewards. Simply, we must look out for and help those in need, those around us in our neighborhood, at work or at school. This is His Father’s business! Let’s get to work!
You should know that in the world to come also you will be judged in the lot of those with whom in this life you have been affected by sharing in their gain or loss, or joy or sorrow.
St. John Cassian
I thought about this from a business perspective… when my associate does well, do I congratulate him?- when my co-worker receives a promotion, do I extend my sincere appreciation for her accomplishments? – when my manager runs into a challenge, do I offer my assistance?… all, at times, very difficult to do however, Stewardship extends to daily interaction in all aspects of our life. Make a difference today!