The following article was taken from the July 2015 issue of our Diocesan newspaper, The Southern Cross and was written by Denis Grasska.
If you’re trying to promote stewardship [in your life] but don’t have a personal relationship with God, good luck!
That was the message that retired Bishop Robert H. Brom delivered June 10 at Sacred Heart Parish in Ocean Beach during the monthly meeting of parishes of San Diego Stewardship Network.
Composed of clergy, parish staff members and other lay Catholics, the Stewardship Network represents parishes throughout the diocese and exists to share best practices regarding stewardship.
“Stewardship is all about discipleship, it’s about encountering Jesus, it’s about conversion of mind and heart, and it’s about communion with Jesus in a loving relationship that might be called—and best called—friendship,” Bishop Brom said. “Stewardship will never work…without an intimate, personal knowledge of God, with an ever deeper discipleship.”
Because of Original Sin, the bishop explained, humanity was estranged from God and desperately needed the assistance of a higher power.
“What’s the good news?” Bishop Brom asked. “That, in the condition of sin, there is help available. And help has a name; His name is Jesus. He comes with the mission of drawing us into communion with God as intended from the beginning.”
“In the mystery of the Incarnation,” the bishop continued, “God…entered into the context of all flesh, in every living situation until the end of time. And that’s our gift.”
Stewardship is about how we respond to that gift: by giving in gratitude for what we first received, he explained. It is a loving response to God’s merciful love.
The first step is simply to recognize “the magnitude of the gift,” Bishop Brom said. Otherwise, “we’ll probably be very stingy” in our own giving.
“We should be fostering a deep awareness of our giftedness,” he said. “Every good gift comes to us from God, and the greatest of these gifts is God’s gift of Himself to us in Jesus?”
“Can you think of a greater gift?” he asked.
Bishop Brom stressed that stewardship will be unsuccessful unless those attempting to promote it actually know Jesus personally, rather than just having knowledge about him.
Stewards must know the real “Christ in the flesh”, not a “plastic Jesus” or the inanimate version found on a church crucifix or rosary, Bishop Brom said.
“Don’t sterilize the context of the gift and the price of the gift,” he said. “When people say, ‘How much should I give in return,” the answer is…everything you can in response to the God who gave everything of Himself to us.”
He concluded by reiterating that stewardship will be unsuccessful unless those attempting to promote it actually know Jesus personally, rather than just having knowledge about him.
Last September, we each made a personal Covenant with God, detailing the steps we would take on our Faith Journey to develop a deeper relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In the next week or so, you will receive the covenant that you filled out last year. Please review it and access your progress. No one needs to see it but you. If you made a promise that you didn’t keep, don’t beat yourself up over it. The time wasn’t right. Maybe you put your energy into something that wasn’t even marked originally, but the Holy Spirit put it in your heart!