Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: February 15, 2015

February 15, 2015 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lv 13: 1-2, 44-46; Ps 32: 1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31–11:1; Mk 1: 40-45

healing-jesus-235There is no question that Jesus understood healing. It was something He did on a regular basis, but the Lord also recognized the need of people to be healed. Today’s readings may speak to healing of disease, but the idea of healing is something that each of us needs as well.

The term “leprosy” appears 68 times in the Bible (55 times in the Old Testament and 13 times in the New Testament). Jesus defied the notion that lepers were to be avoided and never touched. Not only did the Lord touch and heal lepers, He treated them with love and compassion and respect. Jesus knew that just as leprosy is contagious and spreads, so does sin. Leprosy may begin in a minor way, but it can increase in intensity and spread quickly. Sin is very much the same. As we approach Lent and Easter, we need to deal with, acknowledge, and address our sins.

This is a time when we must make a concerted effort to focus on and develop our relationship with God. In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul advises us to do “everything for the glory of God.” He immediately follows that counsel by saying “Avoid giving offense.” This may seem like a mere warning to take care how we treat others, but it means more than that. In this case St. Paul may see an “offense” as a way we may lead others to sin. This concentration on sin is what connects all of the readings today.

Finally Paul directs us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. In his letter to Timothy St. Paul offers the same advice in more depth: “…be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” Jesus reminded us often, and this is also true to those who practice stewardship as a way of life that what we do is more important than what we say. Our lives are a testament to our faith and discipleship. When Paul tells us to “imitate” him, he knows full well the commitment and sacrifice required to be a good Christian, a good follower of Christ.

Again this is important for us to remember as we begin our Lenten journeys. We need to focus on God and our relationship with God; we need to attend to our sins; and like Paul we need to offer good examples of stewardship and the Christian life to others.

The Gospel from Mark relates the healing of a leper by Jesus. This is the first instance of Jesus dealing with a leper, and it occurs at the beginning of His public ministry. Note that the leper does not appeal to the Lord to “heal” him, he asks Jesus to “make me clean.” Healing is one thing; making one “clean” is another. We all desire and need cleansing from sin and the many things that go with it. Jesus responds to the leper, upon touching him, saying “You are clean.” When we seek reconciliation with God through confession, we are following the same formula as laid out in this Gospel. The priest may say various words upon completion of our confession, but a common phrase is “I absolve you…” When the priest says that, it is the same as hearing the words: “Be made clean.”

Leprosy was considered incurable, but it was not incurable for Jesus. Our sins, as challenging as they may seem to us, are also curable with the Lord’s help. Now is the time to seek it.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: February 15, 2015

February 15, 2015 – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lv 13: 1-2, 44-46; Ps 32: 1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31–11:1; Mk 1: 40-45

Ist mark iconn the last verse from today’s Gospel from Mark, this simple statement is made: “…people kept coming to him from everywhere.” Of course, Mark is speaking about Jesus, and the Gospel writer is making reference to the desire of people to be healed. Today’s readings deal in large part with leprosy and lepers. There is a deeper meaning, as is often the case, in these references.

Leprosy is not something we know much about because we do not experience the disease the same way people did in Jesus’ time. The latent point of the Gospel is that we are all in need of healing. We are aware that we are sinners, and the Church takes great care to let us know that penance and healing are a part of our faith.

Lent begins this week, and we need to avail ourselves of the opportunity for reconciliation. This is something we should do regularly, but certainly during the holy time preparing for Easter. Confession is a way we can return to God, and it is key that we acknowledge our sins with true sorrow before a priest. Pope Francis has said, “I cannot be baptized multiple times, but I can go to confession, and when I go to confession, I renew that grace of baptism.”

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: February 8, 2015

February 8, 2015 — Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jb 7: 1-4, 6-7; Ps 147: 1-6; 1 Cor 9: 16-19, 22-23; Mk 1: 29-39

Bloch_Carl_Christ_Consolator-webThis week’s readings extend from Job, a man who needed to be healed, to Jesus healing many in Galilee. Healing is something of which we all are in need, whether it is physical or psychological or spiritual. As much as we may try to avoid it, our lives are filled with pain and suffering of one type or another. Jesus understood that and speaks to it extensively in His teachings.

Most of us are familiar with Job, a man who might seem to have been dealing with more than he could handle. Job is the ultimate pessimist. He bemoans his state in life, and in truth he was faced with many challenges. It was as if he wanted to die because he felt that only in death would he find relief from his pain and suffering. As we learn, however, God has other plans for Job; God will offer him both relief and joy in eternity. At times we, too, might focus so much on our own difficulties that we fail to see positives. The greatest positive is that the Lord is with us, both to share and relieve our suffering. Jesus is our hope, and that is where our focus should be.

The struggles of Job in many ways parallel our own. Job suffers and he questions how God can let that happen. In spite of his doubts Job comes across as a holy man. As difficult as that may be for each of us, that should in fact be our goal. In spite of all, we need to continue to strive to achieve holiness.

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, our second reading, shows some of the same thoughts and concerns as Job. Of course, we do not view Paul as suffering in the way and to the extent of Job. However, Paul does recognize that he, as is the case with each of us, must fulfill his charge from God, and that is not always easily done. Paul the Evangelist points out that God gives him the strength to preach the Gospel in spite of the response and reaction of his listeners, and regardless whether he receives support from those to whom he is preaching. As lonely and isolated as that may seem, as stewards and disciples, we, too, must be prepared to do what is right and to live out our Christian way of life no matter the consequences.

Job and Paul make somewhat indirect references to healing, but today’s Gospel from Mark speaks directly to healing done by Jesus. He heals in privacy (Peter’s mother-in-law), and He heals publicly: “He cured many who were sick with various diseases.” And then the Lord prays. Jesus demonstrates to us that being busy is no reason not to pray; instead it is a reason to pray. Jesus always found time and made time to pray. We need to do the same. A consistent and regular prayer life is an important way we live out our stewardship of time.

The Lord prayed not because of helplessness but because of the power He gained from prayer. Lent will soon be here. If we make one change in our lives, perhaps it should be to intensify and increase our own prayer lives. Jesus knew the value of public prayer, but He also knew and experienced the joy of praying alone. “He left and went off to a deserted place where He prayed.” St. John Vianney wrote, “Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: February 8, 2015

February 8, 2015 — Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jb 7: 1-4, 6-7; Ps 147: 1-6; 1 Cor 9: 16-19, 22-23; Mk 1: 29-39

jesusteacher“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”

There are scores of instances in the Four Gospels which indicate Jesus praying. He often would go off alone to pray, but He also prayed with others publicly; He prayed before He made a choice, before He healed someone, and He was just as likely to pray after as well.

St. Paul exhorts us to “pray constantly, never ceasing.” Jesus perhaps more than any other fulfilled this admonition. He provides to us the perfect example of both how we should pray and in what ways. Prayer is at the foundation of our faith; it is at the core of a stewardship way of life. Developing an ongoing, consistent, and active prayer life is paramount for each of us.

Prayer not only indicates our constant awareness of God, but it enhances our lives, and is an indication of our total trust in God. Trust in God is also an important facet of stewardship. Knowing that we are in God’s hands and in His care is what strengthens us and allows us to make the commitment Jesus has asked us to make. One of Jesus’ final prayers is one which offers us the suggestion of how we need to approach life: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

Join Us for the Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference – April 22-23

McGread-Conference-April-2015The next Msgr. Thomas McGread Stewardship Conference will be held April 22-23, 2015, and registration is now open. There are a limited number of spaces available, so we are extending an invitation to followers of The Catholic Steward blog to attend this one-of-a-kind event.

Now in its 12th year, the McGread Conference has inspired and educated thousands of priests, religious, and lay Catholics, by sharing the remarkable stories of how developing the spirituality of stewardship has transformed the lives of parishioners as well as the life of the parish.

The late Msgr. Thomas McGread, who passed away in April 2013, is often called the “Father of Stewardship.” He was instrumental in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.

At this conference, you can hear the remarkable story of how stewardship transformed his parish — St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita — and how it has impacted other parishes across the country. The conference also will feature presentations by pastors and lay leaders from around the country that will share stories of how stewardship has become a way of life in their parish.

The Msgr. McGread Stewardship Conference is held at the Diocese of Wichita’s Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, Kansas.

Click here to download the conference brochure as a PDF.

Click here to find out more about the McGread Conference. You can also register for the conference at this link.

Conference spots will fill up quickly, so register today! You may register online at the link above, or if you have any questions or would like more information, contact Shari Navarre at 888-822-1847, ext. 3702, or by e-mail at

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: February 1, 2015

February 1, 2015 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dt 18: 15-20; Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9; 1 Cor 7: 32-35; Mk 1: 21-28

St-Paul-Icon-1The Book of Deuteronomy, from which the first reading is drawn, is a series of speeches delivered by Moses to the Israelites. Our reading today is part of the second speech, the major point of which is the importance of the concept of one God and the importance of devotion and allegiance to that one God. Nevertheless, as is true throughout the Old Testament words are spoken and thoughts given that lead us directly to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Moses states, “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.” Moses spoke the word of God as would this new prophet to come. And Moses implored us to listen to Him.

Moses cautions about false prophets, but he is very clear on the fact that this new prophet, Jesus, would give us the Word of God in a clarity and in ways that we had never heard before. Jesus would truly become for us “the Light of the world.” He is one of us; He loves us; and He can guide us to paths of righteousness.

This Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time is one of those Sundays when the connection among the major readings is more difficult to see, as each reading makes an important point that can only be connected with an overall view. St. Paul, in the second reading taken from his letter to the Corinthians, speaks of the importance of a single, non-married way of life. Paul is neither condemning a married way of life nor making an abstract statement about the priesthood. Keep in mind that Paul himself never married so it is natural for him to explain the values of being single. For St. Paul the purpose of life was to please God. Paul is not being critical of those who are married, but he is making it clear to them that one of their main purposes should be to please their spouse. Considering being single to be a particular gift so he could concentrate on serving the Lord, Paul is encouraging other single people to see that opportunity and pursue it.

The Gospel reading from Mark reminds us how the Four Gospels are unique unto themselves (John’s being the most distinctive), and each has a history unto itself. Most scholars agree that Mark was closely associated with St. Peter, and many ascribe Mark’s Gospel to what he heard from Peter. For example, Mark has more dramatic details than the other Gospels, and St. Mark uses more Aramaic phrases than any of the other Gospels. It is believed that Peter spoke exclusively Aramaic, and, of course, that was the native tongue of Jesus.

In this particular Gospel reading we find Jesus in the synagogue in Capernaum teaching. In those days there was something called the “freedom of the synagogue” so anyone could teach there. However, the people find Jesus different because He teaches “with authority.” When You are God, teaching with authority comes naturally. Jesus knew what He was talking about, and He was able to teach the Word of God so effectively because Jesus understood how important it was to be obedient to God.

That is sometimes our difficulty. We may understand, as Moses predicted, that Jesus was the Chosen One; He was the One sent by God to teach us and to save us. We may even appreciate St. Paul’s perspective that focus on God is so important in our lives. However, when it comes to submitting completely to God, to becoming disciples and stewards as Jesus expects of us, we may not be able to get past the idea of serving, of being subservient to God and others. Even the “unclean spirit” presented in the Gospel acknowledges this respect by saying, “I know who you are — the Holy One of God.” We need to yield to the power and presence of the Lord, and we need to be good stewards in that regard.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: February 1, 2015

February 1, 2015 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Dt 18: 15-20; Ps 95: 1-2, 6-9; 1 Cor 7: 32-35; Mk 1: 21-28

moses 5In the midst of miracles and cures and deep understanding of people, Jesus may sometimes seem distant from us. The readings on this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, however, emphasize His humanity; He was one of the people, someone who each of us could relate to not as a God, but a man. However, it can be a bit overwhelming for us to accept Jesus in the way He wants us to.

That does not mean we do not acknowledge His divinity, but we also must view Him as a companion on our own life’s journey. In a sense, this is what stewardship calls us to — walking with the Lord and leaning on Him when we must, and certainly finding strength in His presence. But to have Him present in our lives requires us to make an effort to make that happen.

In the first reading from Deuteronomy, Moses declares, “A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen.” Throughout Advent and the Christmas season we prepared for the arrival of Jesus. Now as we approach Lent and Easter it is time for us to listen to Him. The late Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “One of the best ways to get happiness and pleasure out of life is to ask ourselves, ‘How can I please God’?”

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: January 25, 2015

January 25, 2015 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jon 3: 1-5, 10; Ps 25: 4-9; 1 Cor 7: 29-31; Mk 1: 14-20

St. Paul tells us in the second reading that “time is short,” and Jesus tells us in the Gospel “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand.” Those urgent messages are just as applicable today as they were at that time. We often become complacent and tend to think that tomorrow we can change; tomorrow we can get our lives in order as Jesus has said we must. On this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time in the first month of the new calendar year we need to examine who and what we are.

In the first reading from the Book of Jonah God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh immediately. Nineveh was a large city, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Jonah was hesitant, just as we may sometimes be tentative and diffident about heeding the Lord’s call. God wanted to work through Jonah, just as the Lord wishes to work through us. In order to accomplish that we must be open to letting God be an intricate part of our lives. What Jonah did was an example of repentance, an illustration of what can be done when someone allows the strength and power of God to work within her or him.

St. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, reinforces the call for change and conversion heard in the first reading. Paul prompts us to recall that time is short, and the world in which we live is temporary. As each of us knows, it is very easy to get caught up in our day to day experiences and emotions. Yet St. Paul declares we may spend too much time weeping, rejoicing, and possessing. Stewardship tells us that everything we have comes from God. The point of that is the same as Paul’s thrust in the second reading — that is, our focus should be on God’s presence in our lives, and the fact that this life is merely a preparation for the next one. It is how we prepare for that next life through change and conversion that is crucial.

Jesus and 11 of the 12 Apostles were Galileans (only Judas was not; he was a Judean). Most of Jesus’ ministry occurred in and around Galilee, so it was natural that His efforts began there. As reported by St. Mark in today’s Gospel, the first words of the Lord’s ministry were, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” Entire chapters have been written on that message alone. A key word in His message is “Repent.” We may think that He is telling us to feel penitent about how we have lived and acted, but His meaning is much deeper than that. He is calling us to change, in the same way we hear of change and conversion in the first two readings. It has often been said that stewardship involves a change, a conversion of mind and heart. That is what Jesus is trying to say to the people of that time and to us as well.

The Lord follows the call to repent with a call to “believe.” The original Greek word translated as “believe” was pisteuo. As is often the case the implication of that word is much more than just agreeing or embracing. It means trust and the recognition that we are dependent upon God. Again this goes back to one of the central ideas behind lives of stewardship — that we trust completely in God and make Him central in our lives. It is more than just believing in God. As was the case when Jesus called the first Apostles to “come after me,” He is calling us to do the same. With His help and through conversion and change we can accomplish that.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: January 25, 2015

January 25, 2015 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jon 3: 1-5, 10; Ps 25: 4-9; 1 Cor 7: 29-31; Mk 1: 14-20

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) Most of us have heard that scriptural quote many times. It occurs at the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel and involves Mark’s reporting of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. There is a reason that Jesus called these simple men to be His first followers. In part it is an example to each of us.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John were not theologians; they were not learned; they were not known for their skills in speaking to and influencing crowds of people. They were fishermen. God has gifted each of us with various skills and stewardship calls us to use those skills to build the Kingdom of God.

However, just as the Lord recognized something in those first Apostles, He sees the same in us. It was not what Jesus thought those men could accomplish, but His understanding of what they could do with Him, and Him working through them. In the same way we can accomplish much if we allow the Lord to work within us and through us. The well known late broadcaster Paul Harvey once said, “Too many Christians are no longer fishers of men, but keepers of the aquarium.” Stewardship is the means by which we, just as the first Apostles did, can become evangelists and “fishermen,” so to speak.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: January 18, 2015

January 18, 2015 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Sm 3: 3B-10, 19; Ps 40: 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor 6: 13C-15A, 17-20; Jn 1: 35-42

From God’s call to Samuel in the first reading to Jesus’ call to the first Apostles in today’s Gospel we are reminded that each of us is called, and by name. The call is not impersonal. The Lord is addressing each of us personally to respond to His invitation to serve Him, to become His disciple, and to serve the Church. In this New Year our response to God’s challenge to us is something each of us needs to consider.

Imagine Samuel sleeping in the Temple after having served there all day, especially having served Eli, the high priest. It is perhaps natural that when Samuel hears his name being called that he thinks it is Eli with a particular need. Of course, it is the Lord and Eli cannot hear the call. When God calls us, others may not hear the call either. For us though we need to understand the importance of us listening for that call. That is most easily done through prayer as prayer is intended to be a communication not just from us to God, but between God and us as well. In addition, God is calling us each time we hear the Word from Holy Scripture. Are we listening? Are we paying attention? Are we ready to say, “Here I am, Lord?”

In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians Paul poses the question, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” It can be a humbling admission for us that we are not our own; it is equally humbling to submit to God and His call. It is interesting to contrast ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit with the temple in which God called Samuel in the first reading. Any responsible person recognizes the need to take care of things that do not belong to them. That is Paul’s point to us; we do not belong to ourselves, but we belong to God. That is a central point of the idea of stewardship — everything we are; everything we have; everything we accomplish is because we are God’s and the Lord is with us and in us.

If we have been catechized and if we have paid even minimal attention during our faith lives, there are certain passages from the Bible that strike a chord with us — that is, they relate a story with which we are familiar and most likely have visualized in our own minds. Today’s Gospel from the Book of John falls into that category. It is John’s version of how he and Andrew in particular were called to follow Jesus. We have spoken previously about the unique nature of John’s Gospel when compared to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Scholars generally agree that John’s was the last written, and that before writing it he, John, may well have read the other three.

In the story related in today’s Gospel it is clear what a significant event this was in the life of John, as he recalls and reports the exact time and place when he met Jesus. Although John’s version of how he was called varies from other versions of how Jesus called the first four Apostles, there is an important element in this Gospel. Andrew goes to get his brother Peter, and in all likelihood John went to get his brother James. Just as those initial disciples of Jesus reached out to their siblings and family members, we, too, are called to that kind of evangelization. Part of our sense of stewardship must be sharing the Good News with those closest to us, our families.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: January 18, 2015

January 18, 2015 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Sm 3: 3B-10, 19; Ps 40: 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor 6: 13C-15A, 17-20; Jn 1: 35-42

A popular hymn used in many Catholic churches is Here I am Lord. That hymn is based in part on our first reading from the Book of Samuel. The Lord wants us to respond just the way Samuel does in the reading. God calls each of us to discipleship through lives of stewardship.

Just as Samuel was confused, we, too, may fail to understand what God is calling us to at times. Nevertheless, just like Samuel we do need to respond “Here I am Lord.” That is not always easy and it can be uncomfortable at times. Eli instructs Samuel to respond “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Samuel does so and “the Lord was with him.”

Our challenge is first to hear God’s call. It is there always, but we must listen for it. Then we need to respond to that call, and we need to respond in ways that show we recognize that the call is to service and the call is for us to be disciples. It is only implied initially, but it is clear that the Lord is calling Samuel by name. In the same way God calls each of us by name. We need to hear that as Samuel did, and we need to respond as Samuel did, “Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: January 11, 2015

January 11, 2015 – The Baptism of the Lord
Is 42: 1-4, 6-7; Ps 29: 1-4, 9-10; Acts 10: 34-38; Mk 1: 7-11

In the first reading from Isaiah, the prophet anticipates the Baptism of the Lord as God says, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am well pleased.” This is echoed at the end of today’s Gospel from Mark as God proclaims to and of Jesus, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.”

All of the readings on this Sunday of the Baptism of the Lord, speak to the glory of the Holy Trinity — “the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” As stewards of the faith, we must strive to understand and appreciate the meaning and significance of that Trinity.

Recall that Isaiah was writing some six centuries before the birth of Christ; yet that prophet anticipates and predicts much of what are to learn and realize in the New Testament. Our Old Testament reading on this day falls into the genre of what are popularly called “Servant Songs” (The Songs of the Suffering Servant in Catholic lexicons). In fact, this reading represents the first of the Servant Songs. We are challenged to reflect upon suffering and Christ and salvation within this beautiful poem. Although we understand that suffering is part of life for all of us, it can never match the trials undergone by our Lord and Savior. We, too, are called to be servants of the Lord, and although much less is asked of us than was of Jesus, if we hope to accomplish even in some small way our calling, lives of stewardship provide the best means.

St. Peter, even though he may have faltered at times, and even though he may have been scolded by the Lord occasionally, seized the magnitude of what happened, and he as much as anyone put it in an outlook which means as much to us today as it did to those he was addressing at the house of Cornelius in our second reading from the Acts of the Apostles. In his presentation to those gathered, and to us, Peter declares “Whoever fears him (the Lord) and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” This reinforces Peter and Paul’s messages to the Gentiles that salvation is for everyone regardless of background. Peter was well prepared to deliver his message, and those listening were well prepared to hear it. How prepared are we? When the Word of God is proclaimed, we must discipline ourselves to prepare to hear it. It is not just the Word, but our ability to assimilate that Word into our lives.

The Gospel from Mark supports the reference to “servant” found in the first reading. In Revelation reference is made to the cherubim found around the throne of God, and they have four faces: a lion, an oxen calf, a human, and an eagle. Through the centuries the Church has taken those symbols and applied them to the Four Gospels. The symbol applied to St. Mark is the oxen, an animal of work and service. In many ways Mark emphasizes the works of Jesus more than the words of Jesus. It is this call to service that we find in our own summons to lives of stewardship. St. John the Baptist reminds us that we, too, have received the Holy Spirit through Baptism. Stewardship is our response to that charge, that invitation to discipleship.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: January 11, 2015

January 11, 2015 – The Baptism of the Lord
Is 42: 1-4, 6-7; Ps 29: 1-4, 9-10; Acts 10: 34-38; Mk 1: 7-11

The Holy Trinity is one of those mysteries of our faith which is almost impossible for us to perceive and comprehend. Yet it is presented to us in today’s Gospel all at once: The Son, Jesus, is baptized; the Holy Spirit descends upon Him; and God proclaims, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#253) states, “The Trinity is One. We do not confess three Gods, but one God in three persons, the ‘consubstantial Trinity.’ The divine persons do not share one divinity among themselves but each of them is God whole and entire.” Each time we make the Sign of the Cross we reinforce our belief in the Trinity, and each time we make that sign we should think of the beauty of that concept. “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit… now and forever.”

As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord and an appreciation of the Holy Trinity, we need to supplement that with our appreciation of two facets of our faith — prayer and liturgy. St. Therese of Lisieux called prayer “a surge of the heart.” Stewardship, of course, involves a conversion of the heart. Each of must strive for that conversion, and it is most easily accomplished through prayer and liturgy.

Stewardship Reflection on Lectionary Readings: January 4, 2015

January 4, 2015 – The Epiphany of the Lord
Is 60: 1-6; Ps 72: 1-2, 7-8, 10-13; Eph 3: 2-3A, 5-6; Mt 2: 1-12

“You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefit…” With those words to the Ephesians St. Paul speaks of the revelation that we celebrate on this Sunday of The Epiphany of the Lord. As a people called to stewardship, it is always enlightening to see the word “stewardship” used in Holy Scripture. That is the word used in the New American Bible, Revised Edition (2011) utilized by the U.S. Bishops in their recommended readings and other Scriptural references.

In the original Greek the word used is oikonomia that meant to the Greeks “stewardship” or “administration.” The important key for us is St. Paul’s recognition that he has been gifted by God; he has further been appointed and charged as the steward of these gifts; and that these gifts have come to him from the grace of God. The Greek word for grace (charis) is more than just a kindness or gift from God; for us it means “a gift brought to us by Jesus Christ” with the attached attitude of gratitude and thanks for that gift.

St. Paul is reminding each of us that we, too, are stewards of God’s grace, and just as he accepts that charge and calling and lives it out, we are expected to do the same. That is how we live stewardship out on a daily basis. Of course, this calling is fulfilled in the manifestation of Jesus Christ which is celebrated on this Epiphany Sunday.

As you might anticipate, each of the readings for this Epiphany celebration relate directly to The Epiphany of the Lord. The revelation of Christ’s divinity is presented to us originally by the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. “Rise up…Your light has come. The glory of the Lord shines upon you.” It is as if through the revealing of the salvation of Christ, a bright sun, like the dawn, has broken over a dark land, and all is revealed in the splendor of the Lord. Isaiah then foresees the coming of the Magi, and he even mentions the gifts of gold and frankincense. We are called to honor the Lord with how we live our lives, in stewardship.

As mentioned St. Paul makes reference to a revelation in the second reading. He specifically says that through God’s love the “mystery was made known to me by revelation.” For us the word “ mystery” implies something perhaps dark and sinister. However, the Greek word for “mystery” also means “hidden truth.” This is the context in which Paul was writing. The Epiphany of the Lord reveals the truth about salvation to us. The mystery, of course, is the truth that Jesus came to rescue all sinners, both Jews and Gentiles. Again this is a direct reference to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi who came to honor and worship the Christ child who represents salvation for them, as well as for us.

We are fond of calling the magi “Kings”; the reality, however, is that they were most likely astronomers, truly wise men who studied and, like Isaiah, anticipated the kingship, the divinity of Jesus Christ. They are cited, and correctly so, as examples of stewardship to us. They brought gifts, yes, but even more important, they worshipped. It is important to note that they worshipped first, and then presented the gifts. Recall that it was first the shepherds, humble and poor, who came to worship the Christ child in Bethlehem. Now people of means, the Magi, also come. For us as stewards we must not lose sight of the fact that worship by all comes first, then the response of gratitude for our own gifts by returning gifts to God and to the poor.

Stewardship Bulletin Reflection: January 4, 2015

January 4, 2015 – The Epiphany of the Lord
Is 60: 1-6; Ps 72: 1-2, 7-8, 10-13; Eph 3: 2-3A, 5-6; Mt 2: 1-12

Ἒπιφάνεια — these symbols from the Greek alphabet and the word itself may not mean much to most of us, but this is the Greek word epiphania, which is the base word for today’s Solemnity of The Epiphany of the Lord. Stewardship calls us to an understanding of our Church and our faith. The Epiphany of the Lord is a vital part of our liturgical year and our Catholic tradition.

“Epiphany” literally means “becoming apparent” or “appearance.” On this day we celebrate the fact that the reality of Jesus Christ as our Lord and as the divine and human son of God becomes apparent and real to us. This manifestation, following Christmas so closely, is another reminder to us of how gifted we are. It is an additional indication to us of how essential it is for us to acknowledge our giftedness and to respond in kind through stewardship.

Many of us identify the glory and the joy of the visit of the Magi to the Christ child, and as Isaiah the prophet envisages in today’s first reading, “Then shall you be radiant at what you see; your heart shall throb and overflow, for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you.” And we, as St. Paul indicates in the second reading, “are copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.”