Another Form of Progress and Development

This article, written by Mary Ann Otto, Stewardship Director, Diocese of Green Bay, WI, was originally published in the August newsletter of the International Catholic Stewardship Council.

It is not unusual that I have an immediate emotional or spiritual response to something I read. Recently, I had one such reaction when Pope Francis tweeted in June: “A decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.” Upon reading those words, my body relaxed and I felt at peace.

Though Pope Francis’ comment was an insight directed at environmental and human ecology, the potential outcome of such a decrease overwhelmed me. The thought of living in a world that was not production or consumption driven immediately created an image in my mind of what taking a step closer to the Kingdom might look like and it made me happy.

I imagined what we consistently talk about in stewardship becoming more of a reality. It was about taking time to receive God’s gifts gratefully, nurture them responsibly, share them generously and return them to God in abundance. It was about assessing our lives as followers of Jesus and as members of humankind. The statement was a call to set priorities that reflect a God centered way of life and a change in understanding the definition of power and success.

As a baby boomer, I remember Sundays when the stores were closed and my family would take turns entertaining or visiting our cousins. On beautiful summer days we might spontaneously gather with our backyard neighbors (many of them widowed or retired) for a picnic. We scavenged our kitchens for ingredients to make a dish to pass around, put our lawn chairs in a circle and spent the day together. It was simple, but yet some of the most wonderful memories of my childhood.

When I look at my children and grandchildren I would like for progress and development to reflect a faithful simplicity and generosity. It would be a way of life that honors the earth and humankind. We would be able to redistribute the world’s resources so no one would go without. In the end, I want my children and grandchildren not to experience instant gratification and great wealth, but to experience lifelong joy. That would be progress!

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Weekend of August 22-23, 2015

In today’s Gospel, we hear that a number of Jesus’ followers left him because his message was too difficult for them to accept. In essence, they did not believe in him. He then asked the Twelve if they wished to leave as well. Peter responds by making a profound profession of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Twelve made a choice and stood by their choice, remaining loyal to their commitment to Jesus.

A good question for our reflection might be this: Are we satisfied with the stewardship we exercise over our baptismal commitment? Are we just “along for the ride?” Are we keeping Christ in front of us as we make decisions about our daily activities, our relationships, our parish, issues in the workplace, issues such as peace and justice? What is the quality of our stewardship?

Hopefully you have received last year’s Covenant in the mail (764 were mailed out last week) and have had time to reflect on the commitments you made at that time. You will have the opportunity to forge a new promise with God three weeks from today.