TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Christian Stewardship and Accountability
Christian stewardship is neatly intertwined with the proclamation of the Good News, the collaborative responsibility for the resources of the earth, the unbiased welfare of every person in ways that will reflect and sustain the image and likeness of God in humankind. Put differently, Christian stewardship is a consensus among all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ – at all levels – working conscientiously together, building faith, hope and trust in ways that will give tangible expression to the vision and mission of Christ in the world (Jn.10:10; Lk.4:18). It is through our stewardship that God will be glorified in us through Christ (1Pet.4:10-11).
Christian stewardship calls for a deep level of openness on our part. It begs for the continuous guidance of the Holy Spirit and a mutual exchange of our whole being, in a spirit of Caritas and Filial love, if we must imitate Christ Jesus in his selflessness and mission to redeem the world. Intentionally, we must challenge ourselves to give yeoman service by offering our entire being, our whole existence as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God (Rom.12:1) so that the true reflection of the kingdom of God may be mirrored in the ministry of the Church in the world (Rom.14:17b).
Authentic Christian stewardship begs for a conscientious commitment on the part of all members of the Mystical Body of Christ, from the chief of the apostles to the youngest member of the entire Church. The objective of Christian stewardship is to reproduce the nature of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Righteousness, justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit are unattainable if the spirit of collegiality portrayed in the Lord’s Prayer is absent among the members of the Church. The Lord’s Prayer is a towering model of authentic Christian stewardship. All the components of stewardship are present therein. The Beatitudes make provisions for the type of spirituality needed to endure the cross of discipleship and stewardship with Christ to the end.
From the perspective of the Lord’s Prayer, stewardship does not begin with “Time, Talent, and Treasure”, but rather with a clear understanding of fraternity, sorority, equality, bread and justice for all (Matt.6:11). This notion finds its deepest meaning in compassion, love, mercy and solidarity (Matt.25:31-46). Time, talent and treasure come to the fore only when believers understand, we are no longer individuals attending church, but we are the living church (1Pet.2:5). In other words, Christian stewardship is not an agenda. It is the integral Christian spirituality and curriculum for discipleship within the Body of Christ. In the words of Jason Upton, “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”.
Unless we recognise the analogy of the vine and the branches as our narrative (Jn.15:1-17), we will never embrace Paul’s analogy of the body (1Cor.12:12-30) as the model of stewardship pertinent to our spirituality and mission in the world. Thus, if we dismiss the analogy of the vine and of the body, we will have great difficulty understanding the two greatest commitments and accepting them as fundamentals of Christian spirituality and stewardship; they go hand in hand with the requirements of the Lord’s Prayer.
The time, talent, treasure model of stewardship without a deep spiritual foundation can easily boil down to doing exactly the things Amos 8:4-7 condemned. The congregation will be seen and treated merely a treasury of resources available to exploit rather than exercising the priesthood and kinship it shares in common with Christ. To avoid this kind of tragic end the whole body of Christ must resort to prayer for its leadership and for governments in the world if we should have strong and genuine stewardship and administration where justice, peace and equality are authentic (1Tim.2-:1-8).
O God, you created me for service in your kingdom. Train me while on earth that I may be useful in your kingdom when I get there.