From the Pastor's Desk
This is Sunday is called Stewardship Sunday… A word of thanks to all the parishioners who are actively involved in our various parish ministries, which impact the lives of many people. Special thanks to those parishioners who sacrificially and regularly make their financial contribution to our parish by tithing.
Who is a steward? He is somebody’s manager. We are all stewards of God because, as Psalm 24 reminds us, God is the sole owner of everything we have: "The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness" (Ps 24:1). St. Peter reminds us of our duty of stewardship: "As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace" (1Peter 4:10). The New Testament refers to our stewardship to God 87 times. Paul claims that he is the steward of Christ’s Gospel. The good steward never forgets that God is the Source of all he possesses and that all his possessions are given to him in trust, so he handles them accordingly.
Time, Talents, Treasure: There are three areas of stewardship: time, talents and treasure. Accepting the Biblical model of returning 10% of the "first fruits" to the Lord, we attempt to utilize at least 10% of our time for prayer, reflection, and works of mercy and ministry. Our talents are to be used to glorify the Giver by using them wherever they are needed, in our parish or in our community. Our treasure, taken from our earnings, is offered as tithing for the maintenance of the parish Church, worship, Sunday school, youth formation, Bible study classes, outreach activities in the community and evangelization programs.
In the Old Testament: 1) Abraham first gave a tithe offering as a spontaneous thank you to God. "Then Abram gave the priest king Melchizedek a tenth of everything" (Genesis 14:18-20). 2) When Jacob awoke after his dream, he made a conditional pledge of himself to God, saying, "the Lord shall be my God,” and promising Him “Of everything You give me, I will faithfully return a tenth part to You"(Genesis 28:21, 22), in thanksgiving to Him for His protection, provision and safe return home from his journey. God demanded tithes from His people through His prophet Malachi: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of Heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?" (Malachi 3:10) [Confer also Leviticus 27:30, Nm 18:26; Dt 14:24; 2Chr 31:5.] In the New Testament, there are a number of references to giving God a tenth of the first fruits, even of garden herbs (Mt 23:23, Lk 11:42, Heb 7:1-11). Jesus encouraged the generous sharing of our blessings with others: "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." (Luke 6:38). St. James advises that every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom (James 1:5), for how much he or she should give. St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth to contribute "what they can afford" to support the ministry of the Church (1Cor 16:1-4). He further exhorts: "Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2Cor 9:7). The early Christians offered thanks to God by helping others through the Church: "They would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need."(Acts 2:45). So let us resolve on this Stewardship Sunday to make pledges to give faithfully, lovingly and sacrificially, our time, talents and money to our parish community and thus thank God for His abundant blessings.
In the Gospel today Jesus uses the story of a landlord how he treated his laborers about their use of time, talents and treasure to explain to us God is generous to us, but are we generous with what God has given us. “The last will be first and the first will be last”.