I find it interesting to note that in the Gospels, Jesus never gives a straight answer to a question posed to Him. Actually, He did give a straight answer once, when the rich young man asked Him which was the greatest commandment and then followed up with another question, “What more must I do to be saved?”
Evidently, the rich young man did not like the direct answer Jesus gave him to the follow-up question, because the Gospel says that “he went away sad, because he had many possessions” (Mt 19: 22).
Frequently, what Jesus does when confronted with a question is direct the question back at the person asking the question. For instance, when asked if only a few will be saved, Jesus told the questioner, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.” Jesus went right to the heart of the matter by telling the questioner to worry about whether or not he would be saved.
Here at my parish, Immaculate Conception in Willoughby, Ohio, we begin our sixth Annual Stewardship Renewal in October. Sometimes I am asked by my parishioners, “Is stewardship working in our parish?” The best answer I can give is to put the question back to them and say, “Is stewardship working in your life? Have you become a more generous person with the gifts that God has given you? Do you have an attitude of gratitude for everything in your life?”
Frequently I am asked by other pastors, “Is stewardship really working in your parish?” What pastors are sometimes asking is, “Has your collection gone up because of stewardship?” Sad, but true, many people still think that stewardship has to do with fundraising, when it is totally about “faith-raising.”
At my parish, as well as yours, we should ask ourselves a few questions.
- Are we doing a good job in showing hospitality to everyone?
- Are we growing in individual and family prayer as well as communal prayer?
- Are we engaged in faith formation for adults and children in our parish?
- Are we serving our parish community and local community by using our gifts and talents to enrich the lives of others?
Only then will we be able to determine whether true stewardship is truly working.