Stewardship leaders know that forming people to share their many gifts includes stewardship of financial and material resources. Treasure. We cannot run away from this dimension of the stewardship way of life, and in fact, it is a necessary component of comprehensive stewardship formation. The U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, captures this poignantly: “But a person can say no to Christ. Consider the wealthy and good young man who approaches Jesus asking how to lead an even better life. Sell your goods, Jesus tells him; give to the poor, and follow me. ‘When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions’ (Mt 19:22). Teaching people to be good stewards of their money and possessions is a great gift to them and to our faith communities. When our people develop the ability to separate wants from needs, to see money as a blessing, and to understand that their giving is an expression of their faith and trust in God, they benefit, as does the parish and diocese. Of course, many immediately equate the word “stewardship” with requests for financial giving. Here, we draw on the wisdom of the pastoral letter. Immediately following the reference to attachment to possessions, we are asked to reflect again on Christ’s call: “Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ leads naturally to the practice of stewardship. These linked realities, discipleship and stewardship, then make up the fabric of a Christian life in which each day is lived in an intimate, personal relationship with the Lord” (Stewardship, p. 14). Stewardship as a spiritual way of life is, in this regard, very incarnational. We recognize that our temporal lives, including the ways in which we use money and possessions, is an expression of our spiritual life. It is not uncommon for people to say, “Father always talks about money.” We know this is not precisely true. Father does sometimes talk about money, because Jesus did! Jesus talked about money because he knew that the ways in which people steward their treasure is, in fact, a barometer of their spiritual lives. It is a sign of what they treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” (Luke 12:34). Jesus is the treasure we seek, and stewardship forms our hearts in this search.
Thank you to Leisa Anslinger for this article.