January 23, 2017
Christian discipleship involves many elements, beginning with our response in faith to the Lord’s invitation. In Stewardship: A Disciple's Response; A Pastoral Letter on Stewardship, our Bishops remind us that stewardship is indeed part of the disciple’s life. Like the original disciples, each person brings a kaleidoscope of talent, treasure and spiritual depth in responding to the Lord’s call as Catholics. At the same time, true discipleship must always be grounded in the imitation of Christ — the model for all believers. Hence our lives reflect Him in how we live out our faith in a life founded on prayer, especially the sacramental life of the Church.
The Scriptures also provide us with Mary, our Blessed Mother, both as the perfect disciple and the perfect steward. In the Annunciation, the Father, through the archangel Gabriel, called Mary to say “Yes” to the overshadowing by the Holy Spirit and thus become that vessel through whom the promised Redeemer of all creation would enter our broken world. Even beyond her complete understanding of this event, she accepted this gift in trust and faith as God’s humble handmaid. Then immediately, she ventured to the hill country to visit Elizabeth to share this “good news,” responding to Elizabeth’s greeting with the Magnificat — the disciple’s plan of action.
It is valuable to read that canticle over and over again — as the Church does in vespers each evening. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2619) reminds us that this is the song of thanksgiving for the fullness of graces poured out in the economy of salvation. The disciple of Jesus must always reflect that song of joy and thanksgiving each day, for we have much to be thankful for. What we have and what we are — material and spiritual — are and always will be a gift and, like Mary, we should be shared with others that they may come to know and love her son and our Lord!
St. Luke in his Gospel of Reversals sets the Magnificat before all of us as a living design for leading true lives of stewardship — where the poor, the humble and the needy are lifted up. If we follow Mary’s example of stewardship, we, too, shall be filled with good things. During Jesus’ life and ministry, even to Calvary, she lived out her faith — ever mindful of that original call to stewardship — caring for the One given to her in such an extraordinary way, and ultimately giving Him to us.
Our discipleship of stewardship is a way of living out the Christian Gospel and vocation. Individually, we must embrace our own poverty — for it is only in Christ that we are rich. We must determine the how, what and where of helping others, and helping the Church assist others with our time, talent, treasure and prayer! St. Teresa of Calcutta taught us that the greatest poverty of our world is the loneliness that affects people, regardless of social status.
With Mary, our mother, as our model, may we embrace stewardship as a way of becoming vessels of generously touching hearts and lives with the love of Christ! Our Lady of Lourdes, our patroness, pray for us!