Sunday, September 03, 2006

Stewardship is a way of life (Sunday homily)

During September,
Father Tom, Father Ang and I
will be talking about stewardship.

When I mention “stewardship,”
how many of you thought,
“he’s talking about money?”
Well, money is part of it.
But it’s about a lot more.

A “steward” or “stewardess” on an airplane,
doesn’t own the plane, or anything on it.
They manage someone else’s resources;
and they don’t do it
for themselves, but for others.

When you and I call ourselves stewards,
we’re acknowledging:
1. We aren’t the owners;
2. What we have, is all gift;
3. It’s not for us, but for us to share.

Flight attendants are employees of a business;
You and I belong to God—
we’re part of a Family.
See the difference?

It’s all gift, from the “Father of Lights.”
The Catechism reminds us that,
“God entrusted the earth and its resources
to the common stewardship of mankind”—
so who’s our family?
The whole human race.

Maybe we help at the Bethany Center.
St. Mary has a Mission Commission,
and its members are inviting
St. Boniface folks to join in.
Maybe in our prayers,
or in our role as citizens,
or involvement in the community—
but we find ways to extend our care
to the larger human family.

We have choices in how we do it—
But it is not optional that we do it.

See, this is why stewardship is not
a one-Sunday-a-year thing;
It’s a way of life.

Stewardship is about priorities.
And it starts with our relationship with God.
That’s where all the gifts come from;
the better we know that,
the more freely we share those gifts.

After all, the greatest gift
that we share is that relationship
with God through Jesus Christ!

What else do we have to share?
Look around:

You and I have this parish;
we have the Treasure of our Catholic Faith!

These buildings,
and all that happens here;
All the gifts we all bring in ourselves…
Our school, our outreach,
our worship together;
the 24-hour St. Clare Chapel;
Our rich history—and our bright future;
We have a lot to share!

When you look at this, and say, “mine”
—to be responsible for;
—to safeguard and make increase;
—to share with the world around us . . .

That’s stewardship.

The stewardship way of life,
and the way our culture operates,
are very different.

Our culture is individualistic—
it trains us as consumers.
So, when we come to Mass are we “consumers,” coming to get-and-go? Or, are we “owners,” partners—stewards?

John Wright, our music director,
is one of the most talented music directors
in the Archdiocese—do you realize that?
We are very blessed in him!

He and I want to fill
our church with awesome music—
how about you? Do you want that, too?

This doesn’t require money so much,
but it does require people.

Will you be part of our choir?

I am especially appealing
to men of the parish; and to all ages.

For whatever reason,
certain roles in Mass,
such as our choir,
get more women than men.

Don’t say, “I can’t sing.”
For some of you…that’s true!
But most of you sing better than you realize.
This isn’t “Star Search”;
It’s about bringing our gifts to share.

You might wonder, is this very important?

I think it is, actually.

Mass is the most important
thing we do, as Catholics,
to shape our own faith;
and it’s the most important thing we do
to draw others to the Faith.

Also: men, you and I
are leaders and role-models.
Your sons, grandsons, nephews
are learning from you,
in everything you do. You know that.
So: if when we gather at Mass,
they hear mostly female voices
and they don’t see men stepping up—
what message does that send?

I’m thankful for the women—
and we’ll take more;
But we need both, men and women,
to lead our singing.

When we talk about stewardship
of our parish,
we might talk about our school—
and are we committed to its future?
Where would we be without Catholic education?

We talk about activities like
bingo or our festival;
we always need more volunteers—
such as for the Heritage Festival this weekend,
hint, hint!

I know how hard many work—
and I thank you.
The work never falls
as evenly as it ought to.
That’s the way it is.

Ultimately, it all comes down
to how much we care:
Do we see this parish
and really call it “ours”?
Ours to be responsible for,
and to hand on better than we found it?

To put it even more bluntly:
Our parish is not growing.
What are you and I going to do about that?

The consumer way of life says,
“we can go somewhere else.”
The stewardship way of life says,
“My faith—my parish—
is a gift shared with me,
and I’m going to treasure it
and share with others!”

The Gospel points out that
what matters most for our lives
isn’t what comes into us—what we get;
but what choices, what sharing,
comes out of us:
are they worthy of us—or do they defile us?

In the end, the measure of our lives won’t be,
“what do we have?”
but, “what did we share?”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a fine homily as usual! I wish I could hear it spoken.
The ominous-sounding line was, "Our parish isn't growing."
What causes that to be? Do you have an RCIA program? When a parish doesn't grow, is that temporary, and also is it something rare for the Catholic church? Just wondering.