Someone asked, “Why do I have to give a certain percentage of my income to the Church? Why can’t I simply say, “Well, I will serve as a lector’, ‘I will serve as a Eucharistic minister’, ‘I will sing in the choir’? Wouldn’t that be good enough?
Absolutely not! Why?
Let us begin with the obvious: The Church needs money. Why? Because there are children and adults who need to be educated in the faith: there are buildings, boilers, air conditioners to be maintained; there are people who need the healing touch of Jesus in their hearts, minds and bodies; there are the poor and the less fortunate who raise their hands for help. In short, to do the work of Christ that is its mission, the Church needs money.
Where does this money come from? Contrary to tabloid-style rumor, there are no deliveries from the Vatican. The money to do Christ’s work through the Church comes from you and me and our fellow disciples of Christ. We, the baptized, are the font from which flow all of the Church’s resources. There is no mystery or magic, only devoted Christians, reaching ever deeper, more generously and sacrificially into their own pockets to promote Christ’s work in our parish community.
However, for good stewards, stewardship of treasure is not just about money. It is also about putting in order the priorities of life. Ever grateful to God for the many blessings they have received, good stewards do not ask: “Can we afford it?” The questions to be asked is: “How can we rearrange our priorities to provide a greater place for the needs of our parish?” This means living within our means so we can honor the priorities we have set for our lives. It may mean taking more economical or stay-at-home vacation; it may mean not going to the casino; it may mean shopping for value instead of status.
Returning a portion of our financial blessings to God for Christ’s work is stewardship in action. As the U.S. Bishops put it: “Stewardship is a disciple’s response.”
May God, who is never outdone in generosity bless us all.