Tis approaching the season of goodwill and joy, as many songs, greeting cards and well wishes express to any and all who receive them. A season of joy – well, isn’t that just what we all need? Isn’t that a great way to live the “stewardship way of life”?
I have known many seasons like this, where “joy” is a challenge, more than a reality. I have a feeling this year is no exception. Like most people it would be easy to compile a list that provoke or even prevent attitudes that eliminate a season filled with joy. In fact, I could come up with quite a personal list just for myself. But then, wouldn’t my commitment to being a good steward be neglected if I do that or let myself get swept away in a wave of doubt, fear, and despair? Looking at our world situation and problems “at home” it is too easy to say, “Joy? Better luck next year!” When the cares of this world and the concerns of our own personal lives interrupt the real joy that this season is about, we need to “regroup” and refocus on what is most important. Such is the goal and the mission of stewardship.
Thinking about the journey of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, their story is one filled with all kinds of emotion, from the moment of the Annunciation to the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The lives of these people had to know firsthand moments of stress, confusion and who knows what else. But their commitment to faithfulness and the their resignation to do God’s will inspires all of us to watch with intense curiosity and a prayerful hope that we can imitate them and follow their lead.
The Christmas story continues to be told despite the pressure to secularize the world and push aside the religious. It remains the best known story of all time and I dare say the story that gave real meaning to the stewardship way of life. Without the birth of the Messiah, there would be no discipleship. Without, the Blessed Virgin Mary’s “yes” to God, we would not such a clear picture of complete trust and dependence on God. Without Joseph’s courage and love and respect for Mary, the child Jesus and the commitment to love his wife and family, we would not have one of the best examples of unselfish, self giving, love. The “season of joy” becomes a challenge only when we have forgotten these other realities of our faith and the reason for joy in the first place.
One might even think about Mary and Joseph being the first and best examples of living a life of stewardship, especially with respect to the gift God gave them and all of us in Jesus. The gift they were given was shared with the rest of the world. The challenges they faced in their daily lives didn’t prevent them from experiencing the joy that faith alone can bring. The challenges that we all face shouldn’t wipe out the joy our faith will bring to us.
As the season progresses, the challenges this world today throw our way won’t stop. But let the real joy of the season illuminate us, just as the display of lights on a tree or in our neighborhoods remind us that Christ, our light has come into the world. Let us fill our places of worship and celebrate the joy our faith brings. And may you and your family be enriched in your faith this season of God’s love. May your challenges not be so great that you not notice the authentic “joy” that has come into the world.