For the past week, our First Reading of Weekday Mass has come from the Book of Genesis. The creation account helps set the stage for a full and proper understanding of stewardship. Our starting point is always: God IS. God is Creator of all things, in the heavens above, upon the earth, and below the earth. God is the Initiator…always and in all things.
We are created in God’s image. This may sound too basic, but there is always a bit of a temptation for us to create God in our image…this of course would be and is a false god. The world does not revolve around any one person, or around humanity…it revolves around God, and specifically, Jesus Christ.
The reading for today’s Mass sets the scene for the proper human response to God. We hear today of the sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel. Even the prayer of thanks offered by Eve at the birth of her son reveals the creative and initiating hand of God at work in the human process of giving birth: I have produced a man with the help of the LORD. This simple proclamation of Eve shows that every child is born, not just of the father, not just of the mother, but of God.
This is the first step of a full understanding of stewardship; acknowledging all as a gift from God.
Once we acknowledge all as created by God, for God’s plan and purpose, we then begin to understand our self in a proper relationship to God and with all of creation. Once we acknowledge all as belonging to God, then we begin to understand our role as that of disciple and steward. Cain and Abel understood this fundamental principle, but through different “hearts”. Both Cain and Abel brought an offering to the LORD, but we see that it was Abel who brought the best firstling of his flock. Thus, God was pleased.
This is the spirit we are looking for in a full and proper understanding of stewardship. We are called to make an offering to God with a grateful heart that acknowledges all we have and are as a gift from God. Cain and Abel gave gifts which stemmed from the work of their hands. This is discipleship. When we make the connection between our daily labors as a cooperation in the creative work of God, then, we are truly His disciples. This daily walking with the Lord, seeking to know and fulfill His will in all that we say and do is our goal, to live with and for the Lord, to make a gift of my very self to the Lord…this is discipleship!
As we grow in true discipleship, then our offering to the LORD will by our best, keeping with the model of Abel. There is clearly room for conversion in our growth in both discipleship and stewardship (model of Cain). I pray that we continue to grow in our own understanding of life itself as a gift from God. I pray we grow in our ability to make the connection in our daily life with Christ and God’s Kingdom. I pray for a generous spirit among our people in the service of our Church and broader community; in the support of our local parish and diocese. May we grow always in discipleship and stewardship!