When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was drafting its 1992 pastoral letter, Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, Msgr. Thomas McGread — along with members of the U.S. Bishops’ ad hoc committee on stewardship — was instrumental in bringing forth the concept of stewardship as a way of life.
Stewardship was and is a concept grounded in scripture and the sacraments, and through this concept, we learn that “God is Love,” and out of this love, we all have received the great gift of life. During the course of this life we learn that all that we are, all that we have, and all that we ever will be, is gift from God. In recognition of these gifts, as we are reminded in scripture: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt 4:10)
Likewise, when we receive the Sacrament of Baptism, we are all called to a life of discipleship. Subsequently, through the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are all called to go forth in service, witness and in action, sharing our varied giftedness in love of God and neighbor. Clearly, we are all called to put our faith into action. We do this in the manner in which we share our giftedness in serving the needs of our families, while also extending that sharing — generously, sacrificially and proportionately — in serving, supporting and being actively involved in the mission of our parish, our diocese, and the universal Church.
To me, then, stewardship is “THE” way of life. It is not optional. Don’t get me wrong, stewardship is also “A” way-of-life. But the U.S. Bishops make it clear in the preface of Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, on page 1, when they state: “Once one chooses to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, stewardship is not an option.”
On judgment day, it will not matter whether it is “A” way of life or “THE” way-of-life. All that will matter will be our response to God as to how we lived that way of life in love and service to God and neighbor between the dates on our tombstone.