October 23, 2011
We are called to be stewards of God’s gifts
As a devout Jew, having grown up in a devout family, Jesus of Nazareth would have taken part in celebrating the various harvest festivals of the people of Israel. He would have known well the concept of first fruits, offering back to the work of God what God had provided…an abundant harvest that fed an agrarian nation. God’s Word tells us to honor the Lord with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce (Proverbs 3: 9).
As a devout Jew, having grown up in a devout family, Jesus of Nazareth would have understood the duty of the tithe, offering a tenth of one’s earnings in support of the Temple and the Levitical priesthood. God’s Word tells us that all tithes belong to theLord and are sacred to him (cf. Leviticus 27: 30-34).
Jesus of Nazareth would have learned about giving back to the Giver of all gifts from his earliest years as a student in the small synagogue at Nazareth, then as a teenager and adult, as he took part in the regional harvest festivals and the great festival of Passover in Jerusalem.
As followers of the Lord Jesus, we are familiar with the phrases first fruits and the biblical tithe, but we speak about the desire to give back to the Giver of all gifts and the needs of our parish and Church differently, using another concept, that of the good steward.
The community devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers (Acts 2: 42). They were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed any of his possessions as his own… (Acts 4: 32).
In the language of the sacred scriptures, a steward is one who is called to manage…take care of…protect…magnify…the property of another. A steward does not own the property and life he or she cares for…but is responsible for that property, that life.
God is the giver of the gifts received…everything that is good comes from the blessing of God. Each of us who has been brought into relationship with the Lord Jesus…through Baptism…is called upon to be a good steward of what has been given to us…our life, our family, our work, our faith….and the Light that is Christ. These gifts are not our own. All is God’s. We are called to be good stewards of these gifts, to take care of, protect, magnify and share what the Father has given us in and through His Son. This is the vision of the Church offered to us in sacred scripture.
The Crucified Lord, God’s lamb and our good shepherd, lives. The entire “enterprise” of the Catholic Church rests on this kerygma…this proclamation….that the Son of God has redeemed our broken humanity and we live now as a new family, as his Church, and like living stones, we are being built into a spiritual house and a holy priesthood…in and through our brother, our High Priest…the Lord Jesus (cf. 1 Peter 2: 4-5).
Everything that the clergy and staff of Saint Brigid offers you in the Name of the Lord takes resources: the gifts of the time and talents of all of us and a portion of the treasure you have been blessed with (in and through your life, your aptitude for learning and work, the gift of spouse and friends and family).
We do not live in an agrarian economy and rarely take part in harvest festivals. We do not have a Temple and a Levitical priesthood to support. What we do have is the parish family of Saint Brigid, with Christ the Lord as our heart. Let us live as the apostles lived…sharing what we have…combining our wealth and our talents and our lives…and together…living the life, as disciples of the Lord….as living stones of the new temple…the Body of Christ.
At the weekend Masses, you will hear this appeal, to join with me in caring for the blessings of our parish family…by managing the gifts given…the gifts of Another…as a good steward. Please support the financial needs of our parish, that we may continue to proclaim the Kingdom of God (Mark 1: 15).