It was years ago, back when I was a young priest, that the Lord showed me the wonders and the joys of living discipleship through stewardship. I was the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Wichita, Kan., at the time, and, after reading through the manuscript of a book entitled Tithing, I realized that people were looking for standards in life – not just a standard for their financial giving, but for the giving of themselves.
And then it hit me. Well, really the Holy Spirit moved me, and I realized that through stewardship I could effectively call my parishioners, my fellow Christians, to live as God intended, and to give themselves to Him.
Yet, that was not the first time God called me to this way of life. It was much earlier that He first called me. That happened on the day of my Baptism when I was just an infant. In fact, that is true for each and every one of us. On the day of our Baptisms, whether we were presented by our parents as infants, or we stepped forward to the font as adults, as the celebrating priest or deacon poured the water over us and proclaimed the words of the Sacrament, we became new creations. We became adopted sons and daughters of God’s, and, from that moment forth, He called us to follow Him.
This may be a reality that is obvious to most of you. Yet, it is important to recognize this call as a call to discipleship. A call to give ourselves to the Lord in gratitude for His great gifts. A call to be witnesses to the whole world, preaching the Gospel through the way we live.
The call of discipleship is not one for “the, few and the proud,” as the Marines’ slogan goes. Rather, Christ calls each and every one of us. In fact, he calls everybody in the world – not just the Catholics, or even just the Christians, for the matter. Christ calls everyone to Himself, because He wants everyone to get to heaven, and He knows that He is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn. 14:6). He is the source of salvation. And it is our duty as disciples who have answered the call to help others hear it and respond as well.
First, we must be imbued with the Scripture. It is there that we hear Him speak to us directly. There, He tells us who He is and how we are to live if we want to be fulfilled and happy. We must read the Scriptures daily. We must participate in the Sacraments often, recognizing that it is there that we gain His grace to live the way He wants us to. And then, we must live accordingly, bearing witness to the Gospel, proclaiming the good news, and calling others to a life of love and service and true fulfillment in Christ our Savior.
May we all have the strength and the courage to answer the call, and to give ourselves fully – our time, our talent, and our treasure – to the cause, living solely to glorify God!
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Msgr. Thomas McGread is a renowned stewardship pioneer who built St. Francis of Assisi in Wichita, Kansas, into one of the most vibrant parishes in the country by teaching parishioners how to use their personal gifts. Msgr. McGread, now the Director Emeritus of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita, was influential in drafting the U.S. Bishop’s pastoral letter: Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response.