As Christian stewards, it is of utmost importance that we see God as the great gift-giver and thank Him for all He has given us. In fact, that is where our lives as Christian stewards ought to begin, because without Him, we would have nothing. We couldn’t live, much less choose to follow Him if He did not give us life.
I am reminded of a story that the late Archbishop Thomas Murphy told of a time in his life when he was headed into the hospital for some serious surgery. It was something he never thought he would be confronted with. Life-threatening problems always happen to others, after all. Suddenly, though, that’s exactly what he was dealing with, and the seriousness of the situation prompted him to look at his life through a different lens.“I received the grace to ask myself, ‘What do I own, and what owns me?’” he remembers. “When you are wheeled into the surgery room, it really doesn’t matter who you are or what you possess. What matters is your confidence in a competent surgical staff and a good and gracious God. I know that my whole understanding and appreciation of the gifts and resources I possess took on a new meaning that day.”
For me, that profound realization of the graciousness of God and my need to be grateful took place, in a very powerful way, on the day of my priestly ordination. I had been given the call to the priesthood, and I had just been ordained into priestly ministry – sharing in a unique way in the priesthood of Jesus Christ Himself. As I stood on that altar, I was struck with a deep realization of how good God is, of how gracious He has been to me, and I thanked Him from the bottom of my heart.
Today, nearly 58 years later, I continue to recognize the many gifts God has given me – my calling as a priest, my ability to breathe, to walk and to talk, and really so much more – and I strive to make it a daily practice to thank Him for it all. I have to remind myself that without Him I wouldn’t even exist, and thanking Him is the least that I can do.
Each one of us has been given our own unique gifts. And with those gifts, we all have different callings. Some of us, for example, are gifted with the ability to preach well, while others of us have beautiful singing voices and are called to praise the Lord in song. Some of us are great with finances, while others of us are gifted athletes. The list really is never-ending, because each one of us is a unique creature endowed by our creator with our own set of gifts. But the one thing that does not change from person to person is the fact that all of these gifts come from God, and as good stewards, we must recognize that. It is only upon recognizing Him as the great gift-giver and thanking Him for all He has done for us and all He has given us – most especially His own life as He suffered died and rose solely for us – that we can properly live for Him, glorifying Him and calling others to a life of love and service.