Stewardship Time, Talent, and Treasure
ProLifeCorner- Sun Sept 27 2015- “See what you have stored up for yourselves against the last days.”
Today, in light of the 2nd reading from the Apostle, St. James, I’m going to talk about time, talent and treasure, each briefly and separately.
It happens in every parish: The pastor has a new project in mind — a religious education program for teenagers, a Thanksgiving dinner for the poor, or a food and clothing collection for the local shelter. The pastor then approaches parishioners to help out. It’s a tough sell: People are very protective of their time, they’re not sure this is something they want to do or are comfortable being involved with, or they doubt they have the abilities and patience necessary for this kind of work. But, eventually, a group of volunteers — however reluctant — comes together.
And then, without fail, the remarkable happens. Once the folks see the importance of what they are doing, they become transformed by the realization of the good they are doing and can do. Their reluctance gives way to fresh optimism and enthusiasm; their doubts disappear in a new spirit of “anything is possible.” Though they held back at the beginning, now they readily and willingly devote whatever time and skills and money necessary to see the project through. The volunteers have been transformed by the joy of possibility, the satisfaction of doing good. They have become a community. They have become a church.
By His Holy Spirit of compassion dwelling in our midst, and by His real presence in the Eucharist which He invites to share with us at His altar, Jesus transforms this gathering of ours into a church — a people who have discovered how much God has loved them and seeks to transform their world in that same love, a community that strives to become the Eucharist they have received. Christ empowers each one of us to perform our own miracles of creating a community when we give of our time to take on the work of the Gospel: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, seeking out the lost and forgotten, and teaching our children the good news that God loves them.
There is a legend that after God had created all of the animals of the wood, the newly-made animals walked around, happily discovering what it was like to be alive and getting use to their new bodies — all except the birds.
While the other animals had legs so they could run or fins so that they could swim, the birds could just hop a few steps. They thought God had punished them by giving them these awkward appendages on their shoulders. Why us? they wondered. Why do we have to struggle to get around with these “things” on our backs?
But one bird soon discovered that it could move those “things” on its back, that by flapping them up and down the bird could lift itself off the ground higher and higher and higher into the air. Then another one began to flap its appendages. And then another and another and another. The birds discovered that they could soar into the skies — and no other animal could. The birds discovered that what they thought was a “heavy burden” was actually a wonderful gift from God.
Whether we believe it or not, each one of us has been given something unique and special from God that we can use to contribute to the work of creation. Sometimes the very “thing” that we consider to be a handicap or disadvantage — or a cross — may lead us to discover the particular gift we possess. But such grace demands work on our part, the faith to “flap our wings,” and a willingness to place our “talents” at the service of others. Our greatness lies not in the degree of our talents but in the depth of our love to use them to build the kingdom of God in our time and place.
A minister was preaching on a street corner. He addressed the crowd that had gathered around him, “Now, brothers and sisters, if you had two houses, would you not give one of them to God?” “Yes!” the crowd said.
“And if you had two cars, would you not give one of them to the Lord?” “Amen!” they shouted back.
“And if you had two suits, wouldn’t you give one them to … “
But before the minister could finish his thought, a voice was heard from the crowd, “Hey, now wait just a minute, I really do have two suits.”
The Gospel call to compassion is not a theory, it is a call to action; it is not an option or nicety but a central demand of our baptisms. But God does not ask us to give what he has not already given, he does not expect from us what we do not possess. God asks us to give as we have received, to share from what we have been given. The amount is not important; God is pleased by the spirit of joy and generosity in which we give. St. Basil the Great preached that “the bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the naked; the shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, in our second reading today, the apostle St. James criticizes the sins of the well-to-do in tones reminiscent of the Prophets and with exceptional severity and energy. The Church has constantly taught that we have a duty to do away with unjust inequalities among people, which are frequently denounced in Scripture. People who are well-to-do should use their resources – their time, their talents, and their treasures, in the service of others.
Some give their time; some give their talent, and some give their treasure. Whether you are only able to give one of these, or two, or all three of these, just remember that God in never outdone in charity! Besides, God gives us the poor in order to help the rich get to heaven!
“See what you have stored up for yourselves against the last days” is a reference to our personal judgment. There is an old saying which says, “Your time, talents and treasures are God’s gift to you! What you do with them is your gift back to God!”
Mary, Virgin most powerful, pray for us!
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B
Sunday, September 27th, 2015
James 5: 1-6
Stewardship (Time, Talent and Treasure)