This Sunday’s reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians describes my own ministry of writing these Good News Reflections:
If I preach the Good News, this is no reason for me to boast,
because I have an obligation to do this,
and woe to me if I do not do it!
If I do so willingly, I’m rewarded for it,
but if unwillingly, I’m merely fulfilling my responsibility of stewardship.
What then is my reward?
That, when I share the Good News,
I am able to offer it free of charge so that all may benefit.
Saint Paul was not saying it’s wrong to charge a fee. In fact, Jesus said that the worker deserves his wages (Luke 10:7). But Paul knew that what matters most is being a good steward of the gifts that God has given us.
I am delighted that I can provide, without charging any fees, the Good News Reflections to you and thousands of other subscribers (plus untold others who receive them as forwarded messages or who read them on the Good News Ministries website or on Facebook). It’s the generosity of partners in ministry — the benefactors who support Good News Ministries — that makes it possible.
Father Henri Nouwen said, “Fund-raising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.” GNM’s major end-of-year fund-raiser, and the donations link that’s included year-round in each email and on the website, is a ministry of giving people the opportunity to join me and my team of staff and volunteers in the stewardship of preaching the Good News. Let me take this moment as an opportunity to thank all those who participate with me in the mission of Good News Ministries: Thank you!
When the collection basket comes to us in church or the pastor asks for more money or more time from parishioners, this is not wrong. It is our participation in the mission of the parish. How generously do we participate?
We have all been entrusted with an obligation to continue the ministry of Christ on earth in our contemporary world. A Christian who does not follow Christ in ministry has a lazy faith, or a self-focused faith, an unlively faith. Using your gifts, talents, wisdom, knowledge, compassion, etc., generously for the benefit of the faith of others is an alive faith. The immediate reward is a joyful awareness of being in partnership with Christ.
The Gospel reading for this Sunday shows us the generosity of Peter’s mother-in-law in sharing her talent of hospitality. And it shows us the determination of Jesus to preach the gospel widely and tirelessly.
Both are examples of good stewardship. All gifts and talents and financial earnings are blessings from God that are meant to be shared.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What have you received from God? How much of it is being shared with others? What seems too inadequate to give away? How can you become a better steward of God’s gifts?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Name any service that you provide: How important is it to you that you keep doing it no matter what? How important to Jesus do you think it is? Why?