If we’re comfortable, then we are doing it wrong! This was the message at a recent parish mission. The speaker was referring to our faith and what is expected of us as Catholics. That statement really struck a nerve. Reflecting on this from a warm cozy home where the fridge is stocked with food and the closets are filled with stuff made me a little uncomfortable. How does this relate to Stewardship?
As faithful Catholic stewards we are called to step out of our comfort zone to share the gifts God so generously gave to us. “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Peter 4:10) Putting that verse into action should make us uncomfortable.
How many times do we say, “I just don’t have time.” We are all given the same amount of time, 24 hours a day. The uncomfortable question we should ask ourselves to live a life of stewardship is: how much time each day do we reserve for God in prayer? When we think we just don’t have time, we should take a look at what we do make time for. Our phones track our screen time with detail down to the app. Don’t we wish our phone reported more time on the Laudate app, unfortunately, social media is typically the big winner. There is no better way to start every day than with a little time with God.
It is not comfortable to have compassion for people we dislike or don’t respect. Yet, St. Luke’s Gospel reminds us that we are even supposed to love and serve our enemies. “Love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for He himself is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” – Luke 6:35
It is uncomfortable to talk about the reality that fewer people are making financial gifts to charities every year. In fact, 1,700 people, or about 20 percent, who gave a financial gift to Catholic Charities in 2018, haven’t yet made their pledge to the 2019 Catholic Charities Appeal. Thankfully, 1,000 new contributors answered God’s call to stewardship this year with a gift to Catholic Charities. Unfortunately, that leaves us with a decline of 700 donors just this year. This is a steady trend many charitable organizations have experienced over the past 20 years. We can see stewardship in action at each ministry supported by the Catholic Charities Appeal, as they use every gift to serve the physical, mental and spiritual needs of tens of thousands within the Archdiocese of Mobile. Embracing stewardship as a way of life is the only way to reverse this trend. “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; then will your barns be filled with plenty, with new wine your vats will overflow.” (Proverbs 3:9-10)
A good steward might say that if a gift doesn’t hurt just a little, we can’t call it a sacrifice.
— Shannon Roh is the Executive Director of the Office of Development and Stewardship for the Archdiocese of Mobile.