Gospel MT 22:15-21
The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God."
God will not be out done in generosity. This concept should instill in us trust in our life of stewardship. God will not be out done in generosity. In the Diocese of Wichita we are in the period of stewardship renewal. This is the time when we take stock of our lives as disciples and we offer our actions in a grateful response to all that God has given to us. Stewardship is the grateful response of a Christian Disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares these gifts in love of God and neighbor.
At its root stewardship by its definition is an act of gratitude, which for us as Christians it needs to be the fundamental mentality of our life. There are a lot of mentalities that we can have. Many of us give into the ‘busy mentality’ which is the “I’m busy, I’m stressed, there is so much going on.” For many the first instinct to our daily life is “I’m overwhelmed. ” So we run, and we push, and we lose sleep, and we feel exhausted and stretched thin. Then whenever people ask us to participate in stewardship, we feel as though we have no more to give. However the actual mentality of a Christian should be fundamentally an act of gratitude. We are a blessed people, and it takes work for us to have the mind of Christ that allows us to see our entire life in the terms of gratefulness.
Gratitude is the cure for a challenging life, for there is no moment in our Christian lives whenever we cannot be fundamentally grateful for something. Many people are in very serious circumstances, and severe challenges, experiencing the sorrows and tragedies of life. One of the ways we can get ourselves out of that sorrow and out of that tragedy is by looking at all those things for which we can be grateful. If a person is dealing with a severe illness, we can be grateful for your family members who are surrounding you. If a person is dealing with the challenges of life, we can be grateful for the gift of life at its root. There is always a way for to find those things for which we can be grateful. When we put on the eyes of gratitude we are searching always for God’s blessings. Gratitude is like harvesting a field. When noticing the grain I can pick the harvest, but if I never notice the grain I can never pick the harvest. Gratitude is noticing the blessings of God, so that we can make them apply to our life.
This gratitude is the grateful response of a Christian Disciple. This is what we need to remember; that stewardship is the active branch of our discipleship. Stewardship is to discipleship, what exercise is to a YMCA membership. If you have a membership to the YMCA and you never use it, it is a useless membership. If you are a disciple but you never act on of your discipleship, your discipleship is meaningless. You cannot be a disciple without also being a steward of the gifts that God has given to you. Stewardship is the active branch of discipleship. It is the exercise of discipleship. Just as a person who loves another person acts for that persons’ good. We who love our God and love our neighbor act according to the good of the God and neighbor of whom we love. Stewardship is then not only a grateful response but a mentality of gratitude. It is also then an extension of our discipleship that lets us know then in fact we are true disciples of Jesus Christ.
We must also recognize and receive our gifts. You cannot be a steward of gifts which you do not know you have. In the same way that we try to harvest God’s blessings we also recognize the gifts which God has given us so that we might be able to use them. It is not uncommon for teenagers to be envious of other peoples’ gifts and talents. I think in a particular time in all of our lives we may have looked at someone else and said “I wish that I could be more athletic, or more intelligent or taller or shorter, or richer or poorer. I wish that I could have what Billy, Jimmy, Johnny and Sue has rather than what I have.” There is a type of jealousy that can creep into us so that whenever we take stock of ourselves in our own mind we find ourselves lacking. What a sad situation that is.
God has blessed us in so many ways with gifts and talents that are unique to each of us. It is an act of stewardship to first recognize those gifts and then to receive those gifts; Not to be envious of what others might have but to rejoice in their gifts as making them unique individuals and to rejoice in our own gifts so that the talents that I have can be fruitful for other people. If I never recognize my gifts then I will never receive my gifts, then I can never appropriately share those gifts with other people. This means that either I have bad self-esteem or I’m dealing with envy that handicap my ability to be fruitful on other people’s behalf.
To be continued…