For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about our Season of Stewardship and I hope my reflections have been helpful to you as you discern how the Lord is inviting you to exercise your stewardship toward the parish through your time, talent, and treasure. Although I cannot read all (or any for that matter) of the minds of those in the parish, I am willing to bet there have been some who have thought: “That is a good idea. I like that idea of stewardship. I am sure somebody in the parish will step up!” I think I am safe in saying this because that is how I have thought about invitations to step up in the past. To be honest, there are still many times when I have that same thought.
To be sure, none of us can do everything, but every one of us can do something to be more invested in our parish. I say this not from the perspective of desperation that that the parish needs what you have. While what we bring to our parish family in the form of time, talent, and treasure is necessary for a vibrant parish, we need to make an adjustment to how we think about our relationship to the parish, and the Church more broadly. It is not primarily that the Church needsyou and me, rather, you and I are the ones who need to the Church. The Church has been given to us by Christ as the means to our salvation. The Church has been entrusted with the stewardship of God’s grace through the sacraments which grant us the gift of His life and the hope of eternal life. It is not that your giving money to the parish or volunteering for a ministry is somehow your doing the Church a favor. Do not get me wrong, giving of our time, talent, and treasure is very much a gift that is very appreciated, and very helpful to the well-being of our parish. But the ideal in our giving of these gifts is to do so from that place of gratitude which I began our reflections with a few weeks ago. We are grateful for the gift of the Church which gives us these many helps to our relationship with the Lord and the promise of eternal life. From that place of gratitude, and the awareness of how much we depend on God and His Church for everything, how can we not want to give back to Him and His Church?
When I was thinking about entering the seminary, I had a lot of reasons why I could not give my time, and indeed my life, to the Church as a priest. I was not qualified enough, I was not holy enough. I had every reason under the sun why it was not possible for me to say ‘yes’ to His invitation. Somebody else could do it far better than I. But the Lord spoke clearly to me in a way that has shaped that decision and many thereafter. He made me aware of the many, many graces He had given to me in my life, how He had cared for me in so many ways, both known and unknown. In prayer, He said very distinctly to me: “If I have done so many things for you, and now I am asking you to take this step in faith and consider being a priest, the question is not: ‘How can I possibly say yes?’ Rather, the question to ask is: ‘How can I possibly say no?’”
Perhaps as you consider the various reasons why you feel you cannot possibly say ‘yes’ to taking a step in faith toward greater stewardship in whatever form it may be, ask the Lord to reveal to you His many blessings, how He has guided you, how He has blessed you and your family, and how He has been at work in your life in ways known and unknown. After doing that, I would not be surprised if the Lord prompts you to respond to Him the same way He did (and still does) to me: “After all you have given to me and done for me, and now that you are asking something more of me, how can I possibly say no?”