This week I am leaving for a quick trip to India. It was planned several months ago as I had to celebrate the wedding of one of my nephews. However, the wedding was called off a few weeks ago. I would have loved to change my ticket for the summer but it would have cost me almost as much as the ticket to make the change. That is when I decided to go home all the same. As I am getting ready, I cannot but marvel at the number of trips I have taken across three continents over the last three decades. Growing up in the fourth largest city in India, I never imagined that God would take me to all these places. Even though I came from a middle class family, we could not have afforded the price of these inter-continental air tickets. I am filled with gratitude to God for His bounty.
My gratitude covers far more than my travels. The very gift of my priesthood goes above and beyond my merits. I am totally unworthy of His calling. A couple of my brothers are funnier than I, and a couple of them are more generous. They are smarter and kinder. Yet God called me. I don’t know why. When I was younger I used to think that I was doing God a favor by saying “Yes” to Him. As I get older, I am more and more aware of His generosity. Even my becoming your pastor has been a purely gratuitous gift. I am deeply convinced that all that I am and all that I have, I owe to Him completely. Everything I have is a gift, an undeserved gift.
This is a fundamental truth which applies to all of us. All that we are and all that we have is a gift from the Lord. Sometimes we think that we owe our success to our talents or our hard work. The world tells us that we are self-made individuals and we should pat ourselves on the back for our achievements. Let us reflect a bit. Why was it that we were born into a rather comfortable family in the wealthiest country in the world? We could have been born in some Third World country where numerous individuals struggle from day to day. Why were we given the opportunities to go to school or to learn certain skills while others were denied the same? How often in our difficult situations God placed the right people at the right time to make things work to our benefit?
This profound sense of gratitude for our very existence should be the starting point of our faith journey. It will also be the springboard for our action towards our faith community. If we owe God a debt of gratitude, then what should we do in response? We are called to become the stewards of God’s house. We are called upon to live our lives in a spirit of stewardship.
Who is a steward? He or she is someone who is put in charge of his/her master’s possessions to take care of them and to administer them wisely. The possessions do not belong to the steward. It is so easy to forget that in a certain sense we do not really possess anything. We hold on to them only for a time. Death separates us from all our possessions. As we read in the Book of Job, “Naked I came into this world and naked I shall return.” All our material possessions and wealth are entrusted to us so that we will administer them wisely and then pass them on to others.
Once this spirit of stewardship is embedded in our souls, we will live our life on this earth with wisdom. While we take care of our family and all those dependent on us, we will ensure that we use our resources to take care of all of God’s children. Embracing stewardship demands that we live our lives in this abiding sense of gratitude to God. Such constant gratefulness is the key to a joyful life.
Over the last few months I have been writing about our capital campaign which will be launched officially on February 7. Our participation in the campaign will be an extraordinary exercise of our stewardship. I invite each and every individual, each and every family, to spend the next few weeks reflecting on the bounty of God. Every one of us has ample reasons to be grateful. Let us count our blessings. May the Holy Spirit impress on us that we owe everything to our Loving God!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...