How can someone have authority over my stewardship?
This week in the Gospel we are learning about Jesus’ authority. The Gospel tells us how Jesus departed from the traditional habits of the teachers in the synagogues to teaching with new authority. Of course, his authority came from God, but people were “astonished” because this occurred early on in his ministry and was not the norm. In the second part of the Gospel, Jesus expels a demon. But also in non-traditional habit for the day, he does so much quicker, not relying on long ceremonies or ordeals which often did not work. Jesus did not need to rely on ceremonies because He had the authority of God, the same authority we referred to earlier in the Gospel. The positive reaction from the people when He ministered with this authority started to build their trust in the Lord, the same trust we should have with him.
God is the authority in our lives. In fact, while we may personally discern our stewardship practices, he is the real authority that reminds us that all we have, is what is needed. In most instances who has authority also has priority. This authority is linked to a Christian Steward’s way of life. Stewards consider giving their first fruits in return for all the gifts they have received from God. Each breath we take, each child we hold, each family member we cherish is a gift. A gift we are to return.
With God at the helm of stewardship, how could anyone go astray? But, as many of us know, we have. The culture seems to have lost the voice of authority. We have lost the authentic sense of giving. We give because we are told to by some other authority. There is a carrot at the end of that gift, not a holiness achieved. For example, in speaking with a group of friends who are parents of young children, I heard of the responsibilities to give time and money to this or that. However, the conversation had a tone of frustration or anger, like “how dare the school ask me to give more.” Despite knowing charity is needed to support many of our Catholic missions, we typically need to be reminded to do it, and even asked. I wonder what a community looks like when everyone is freely giving? Giving with no “checkbox” next to their name, giving without condition, giving to the fullest extent, freely, without reminders and without the need to ask for more because more is always given.
Part of an interesting exercise I get to be a part of each week, is watching my daughter “withdraw” from her piggy bank to share what she has with the Parish. In no organized fashion (clearly accounting might not be in our future) she takes a handful of her coins and throws them into her purse, never hesitating or counting. Her measurement is the size of her hand, but in comparison to what she has, that is close to everything. She like many other kids, have a natural ability to give. Often without asking, if they see someone in need they try to help. Sadly, when many adults see someone in need we avoid eye contact and try to go the other way. There is so much we can learn from these little people in our lives. Sure, they may not have the bills to pay, the responsibilities we have, but they do know the value of giving. Understanding that it was God wants for them and as authority in their lives, they act to please Him first. What authority are we placing before God’s in our lives?
Katie Price is the Coordinator of Stewardship for the Cathedral.