A s you may know, the parish is in the midst of its second annual Stewardship Renewal. This is a time where all of us are called to renew our commitments to God and our parish by completing a commitment card and making pledges to spend time in prayer, get involved in ministry, and contribute to the offertory for the next year. I know you have received your stewardship packet in the mail, and I hope you can fill out your commitment card and turn it in next weekend, which we call “Commitment Weekend.”

This weekend, however, is also very unique as some of our own parishioners—Yvonne and Gary Gillard—are speaking at all of the Masses, sharing their story of stewardship and how it has enriched their lives individually and as a family. Also, after the Masses, everyone is invited to attend our Ministry Fair. Members of the parish’s many ministries have taken the time to stay after the Masses this weekend and share with all of you about their ministries and how you can get involved. I encourage you to stop by and check it out.

Our readings for this Sunday also tie in well with stewardship:
The first reading from Isaiah refers to the Messiah as “Israel.” Did you know the meaning of “Israel” is “governed by God”? It makes sense, then, to call Jesus “Israel.” The passage says, “You are my servant, O Israel.” Indeed, Jesus was truly not just the Lord’s servant, but ours as well. He was to become the sacrificial lamb in our behalf. Allowing ourselves to be governed by God is an important component of stewardship—after all, everything we call our own is really a gift from God!

In the second reading, St. Paul writes to the people of Corinth. In the short passage, St. Paul puts the focus completely on “our Lord Jesus Christ”—mentioning Jesus six times in the text. As good stewards that is where our focus needs to be as well.  Stewardship is living a God-centered, Christ-centered life. All peace and all satisfaction are found through Christ, and St. Paul knew that.

Turning to the gospel, did you know that the term “Lamb of God” only appears in the Gospel of John? John was the youngest of the Twelve Apostles. His Gospel was the last of the four Gospels written (estimated around 90 AD). His Gospel is also unique among the four Gospels in its approach and in its style. John lets us know why he wrote it: “…that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

For more than 1,300 years the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei) has been a standard part of our Catholic Mass. That term reminds us at every liturgy that Jesus allowed Himself to be sacrificed on our behalf. It was the ultimate act of love. In a small way we are asked to respond to that sacrifice by living lives of stewardship—by giving of ourselves in many ways. Fr. Henri J. M. Nouwen, a prolific writer on what it means to be Catholic, said, “Our humanity comes to its fullest bloom in giving. We become beautiful people when we give whatever we can give: a smile, a handshake, a kiss, an embrace, a word of love, a present, a part of our life…all of our life.”

I hope that you are able to embrace stewardship this new year by giving of yourself.

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