STEWARDSHIP AND CONVERSION

 

Lenten Meditation of Stewardship for March-April 2011

 

The gospel stories of the dialogue of the Lord with the woman by the well, the cure of the blind man and the raising of Lazarus all spell out the main message of the Lenten season—conversion.

The Samaritan woman could not understand the request of Jesus for water. Neither could she understand the offer of Jesus for life giving water. The woman’s admission of guilt and history of sin was the beginning of her new life. Jesus drew out from her that confession of sin.

The blind man was able to see only when he recognized that Christ was the source of his sight. Whoever thinks he is able to see because of his own effort is already blind and will ultimately be blind.

In commanding Lazarus to come out, Jesus teaches us that damnation and death will no longer be the destiny of the children of God. Whoever believes in Jesus shall come to life. Through his obedient love, we have received resurrection and new life.

The spirituality of stewardship is not new. It is based on many biblical traditions but we want to inject a new perspective to our stewardship in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan—primarily, that we are all stewards of the earth because we are all created by God; secondly, that we are all stewards of spiritual gifts on account of our Christian baptism and lastly; that generous, cheerful and humble stewardship can make us holy.

Stewardship calls us to conversion. We are not owners. We are tenants and stewards. Stewardship calls on us to out to share our blessings, our lives and our resources at the service of the mission of Christ. Through our stewardship of time, talent and treasure, may others be led to spiritual maturity and abiding loyalty to the Church.

In the next months, we shall see in our archdiocese the phasing out of the fixed offerings for the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals.

We cannot reach our stated goal without a process of conversion and a change of pastoral paradigms. The phase out of the arancel is not a money issue. It is a deeply spiritual matter. We need to change our understanding of the Church from being a stone building or a service agency to a community of disciples called by Jesus, formed by Jesus and sent by Jesus. The Church is communio. We must liberate our religious experiences from individualism and narrow mindedness. We are saved not by justice but by the immeasurable mercy of God.

If we are to live out this communio, we must make love the over-all guiding principle of our daily lives. Love is best shown by an attitude of sharing. The greatest act of love is the giving up of life for the loved one. We must imbibe the attitude of giving without expecting anything in return. Giving must be like breathing or eating. We die if we stop giving. The pastors must freely administer the mysteries of God and the flock must give and share unmindful of any reward.

Let us recall the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians "Do not forget. Thin sowing means thin reaping. Each one should give what he decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, because God loves a cheerful giver. And there is no limit to the blessings God can send you –he will make sure that you will always have all you need for yourselves in every possible circumstance and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works." (II Cor. 9:8-8).

As we enter Holy Week, let us open our hearts for the call of conversion. At Easter time, may be new men and women with a fresh understanding of the Church and a new attitude of happy, generous and humble stewardship.

 

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, April 10, 2011

 

 

 

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

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