Stewardship: Jesus Sets the Example

As we move through Lent and approach Holy Week, we might think about the Lord’s Passion as a goodbye story, almost as if it were a closure. It begins with a Passover meal, where there is a discussion of what might happen in the future for the disciples.

However, listening to Jesus must have been very uncomfortable for some of those gathered. One of the disciples learned that he would betray Jesus; Peter heard that he would deny him. These predictions might remind us of what it is to be human – that we make mistakes and that we are limited

This meal is followed by Jesus’ rejection at the hands of the authorities – and his humiliation as he is whipped and mocked. He then dies on the cross.

Jesus is at the mercy of the worst kind of humiliation. How does he respond? With anger or indignation? No. He is humble until the end.

He shows great respect for authority but also remains true to himself. We see this when he goes off to pray on his own: he ‘withdraws’. He needs to be rooted in that relationship with his Father.

What kind of a saviour is Jesus? How does it feel to have a saviour who was mocked and abused and humbled himself to death on a cross? How counter-cultural is Jesus, and how is he still counter-cultural for Christian stewards today?

As we continue through our Lenten journey, let us think about how we live as Jesus’ followers, as stewards of his Gospel message. How often do I empty myself, even a small amount for others?

Jesus sets us an example of how to live. Even at his death he was living his ministry by reaching out to the women at the foot of the cross. We are all called to live that ministry too – we are accountable for how we live our lives.

Our faith has been passed to us and faith is a huge gift. How we live in response to that gift is left to each of us, but we are called to reflect God’s love.

Mother Teresa once commented that each of the people we meet is Jesus in disguise. Try to see Jesus in just one person each day this month. At the end of each day, try and reflect on how that was. Was the person in whom you saw Jesus someone you find easy to love?

This article was written by Teresa Keogh from the Diocese of Portsmouth, U.K. Other great dynamic articles can be found at CatholicStewardship.com.

Almsgiving: An Expression of Gratitude

When we look at the three traditional “disciplines” of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we know that almsgiving gets the least attention. Yet, the Bible places emphasis firmly on almsgiving:

Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness … It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life (Tobit 12:8-9).
Almsgiving is simply an expression of our gratitude for all that God has given us, and a realization that as a member of a community of faith, it is never just about “me and God.” It is fundamental to being a good steward of our community. For disciples of the Lord, almsgiving means much more than simply throwing a little change in the poor box. It is an attitude of generosity. It challenges us to examine how we are using our time, abilities, and money to better the lives of those around us. It urges us to share what we have been given by God with others in love and justice. It reminds us that Jesus blesses those who seek to be “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3).

Almsgiving opens our hearts to the realization that God blesses us through those we serve. It is here that we find the great mystery of Christian service. We see God in the life of Jesus, and we see Jesus in all those who are in need of our care. Look around, see those who are in need, and ask God to take away those obstacles and distractions that keep us from being generous with them. In turn, we will receive God’s blessing.

Consider one or more of these creative almsgiving ideas for the remainder of this Lenten season:

• Show an act of kindness to some¬one you don’t speak to often.

• Visit an elderly person who may be lonely.

• Reflect on the regular contributions you make to the parish. Could you do more?

• Perform an extra chore for your parents one day each week during Lent.

• Go through your closet and find some clothes in good shape to give away to other children who are in need of clothes.

• Write a letter or create a card for someone who is sick or might be lonely.

• Buy some cans of food to give to a local food bank or soup kitchen.

• Donate diapers, formula, baby clothing, baby furniture or maternity clothing to a local crisis pregnancy center.

Accept the Grace of Reconciliation

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is ALWAYS a beautiful thing. I had a friend recently who hadn’t been to confession in about 40 years. I’m sure you know someone like that…maybe yourself? He decided in his heart that it was time to go, but he feared being judged or chastised. I assured him that God would be thrilled to see him return to grace.

So, he corralled his fears and trepidation and showed up at the confessional one Saturday. Rather than scolding him for his absence, the priest asked “Why now? What brought you back to the Sacrament?” We all have our reasons why we stay away and we all have our reasons why we return. If it’s been awhile, why not now? Why not this Lent? God is patiently waiting for you to kneel before Him and say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

Our parish is hosting a Communal Lenten Penance Service on Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 p.m. As a community, we will share a short prayer service, an examination of conscience, and then each penitent will have the opportunity to meet privately with a confessor. (About 10 priests will be on hand for the evening.)

If you would rather go to confession in the traditional manner, we will continue to offer confessions every Saturday in Lent at 8:00 a.m.

Your other option is to attend a Communal Penance Service at a neighboring parish. (See list at far right.)

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE:

I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD: YOU SHALL NOT HAVE STRANGE GODS BEFORE ME. Have I treated people, events or things as more important than God?

YOU SHALL NOT TAKE THE NAME OF THE LORD YOUR GOD IN VAIN. Have my words, actively or passively, put down God, the Church, or people?

REMEMBER TO KEEP HOLY THE LORD’S DAY. Do I go to Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation? Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body? Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday?

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER. Do I show my parents due respect? Do I seek to maintain good communication with my parents where possible? Do I criticize them for lacking skills I think they should have?

YOU SHALL NOT KILL. Have I harmed another through physical, verbal or emotional means, including gossip or manipulation of any kind?

YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY. Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself?

YOU SHALL NOT STEAL. Have I taken or wasted time or resources that belonged to another?

YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS AGAINST YOUR NEIGHBOR. Have I gossiped, told lies, or embellished stories at the expense of others?

YOU SHALL NOT COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S SPOUSE. Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love?

YOU SHALL NOT COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GOODS. Am I content with my own means and needs, or do I compare myself to others unnecessarily?