In 1992, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a groundbreaking pastoral letter titled Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response. This document was designed to be an invitation to follow Christ, Who gave of Himself for us. Each of us is called to serve our neighbors and to be stewards of God’s creation and of all that has been entrusted to us.
However, to truly understand stewardship, we must look to the Holy Eucharist — the total gift of our loving Savior to us. Stewardship is our response to that gift.
Even the word “Eucharist” implies stewardship. The word finds its roots in the Latin word eucharistia, which in turn came from the Greek word eukaristos, which simply meant, “gratitude” or “thanksgiving.”
Since we are called to be a stewardship people, how fitting is it that we celebrate an act of thanksgiving and gratitude at the focal point of every Mass — namely, the reception of Jesus’ gift to us, the Eucharist.
In Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response, the bishops tell us “The Eucharist is the great sign and agent of this expansive communion of charity… we enjoy a unique union with Christ and, in Him, with one another. Here His love — indeed, His very Self — flows into us as disciples and, through us and our practice of stewardship to the entire human race.”
When we receive Christ’s Body in the Holy Eucharist, we hear the minister say, “The Body of Christ.” To this, we respond, “Amen” – which means in Hebrew, “Yes; it is so.” This is the essence of stewardship. We should enter the church for Mass out of gratitude. We recognize the presence of the Lord in Holy Communion, and then we truly receive the Lord.
What’s left after we receive the Eucharist is going out into the world to fulfill our stewardship mission in love of God and neighbor. This holistic experience is the essence of stewardship. We are grateful, we recognize the Real Presence of the Lord, we receive the Lord, and then we share what we have received.
Christ’s gift of the Eucharist is an invitation to us. We are called to give beyond what is convenient or comfortable. We are called to forgive even when forgiveness may not be deserved. We are called to love as God loves us.
The Eucharist is stewardship celebrated. The Mass is more than a ritual. It is an actual encounter with God, with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. What we experience in the Eucharist should, in turn, translate into our daily lives. We are committed to the Church, which is Christ’s body. We show our love for His body through acts of charity and generosity. We spend time in prayer, expressing our gratitude and our love.
God’s greatest gift to us is Christ’s great love for us — this was shown when He was crucified on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins and to give us eternal life. God’s love for us is without limit, and He offers Himself to us in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. Stewardship is how we respond to that gift.