by Ken Rolheiser
Stewardship is the measure of a disciple

Do you find your faith life exciting?

Why do we feel the need to gather in community? Why does every town have a recreational director and plans events like Cinco De Mayo, Canora in Bloom, or Winter Festivals? 

In “Downtown” Petula Clark sang, 
When you're alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go / Downtown.

In The Loneliness Factor Father Ron Rolheiser says, “Even if you are a happy person, a person who relates well to others and who has many close friends, you are probably still lonely at times… We hurt, and we live in pain, in loneliness, damned loneliness.” 

But if we can only get “downtown”, as in the Downtown Song, we can be:
Happy again / The light's so much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown

In the Christian community it should be easier to 
…find somebody kind to help and understand you
Someone who is just like you and needs a gentle hand
To guide them along.

Someone who is just like you? What is the measure of a disciple? Discipleship is being a follower of Jesus. Stewardship is being grateful for all that we have been given by God and generously sharing what we have been given.

An example comes to mind. Several businessmen ran late at a meeting and were rushing to the airport to catch a plane home for supper. As they passed through the airport, one of them bumped an applecart spilling the apples, which rolled all around. The men rushed on, all but one who stopped and called, “You may have to tell my wife I’ll be late.” 

He went back and started gathering apples. They belonged to a blind sixteen-year-old girl. As he collected the apples, he noticed some were bruised, so he gave her forty dollars to compensate. After she thanked him and he was walking away, the girl called out, “Hey mister, are you Jesus?” (Story told by Father Don Lukey).

If you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, attending Mass, parish volunteering and fund-raising will seem like a happy opportunity to follow Jesus. If you are not a disciple, Stewardship will look like a recruitment drive to boost Mass attendance; it will look like begging for more parish volunteers, and it will look like endless fund-raising requests.

Discipleship is the result of a loving relationship with Jesus. Stewardship means following Jesus irrespective of the cost. A steward shares the gift of his time, the gift of his treasure and the gift of his talent for the good of all. Once we accept our discipleship out of love, we follow Jesus beyond our parish boundaries in our evangelisation of others.

1 Peter 4:10 tells us: “Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces from God, put yourselves at the service of others.”

Matthew 25:35–40 outlines what we must do to enter the kingdom of God: “I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome; naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.”  

(554 words)