Stewardship: A Way of Life

Stewardship: A Way of Life

STEWARDSHIP:  A WAY OF LIFE by Kathy Reilly

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THE GOOD SHEPHERDS

Jesus referred to Himself as the ‘good shepherd.’ He said “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know Me.”  (John 10)

“There are times when words fail us – when they do not capture the depth of overwhelming situations we sometimes face in life. For the Church in the United States this is one of those times.” (Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley)

Human shepherds can lose their way. But unfortunately, these lost ways are not incidents that   affect only themselves, but have had horrific consequences on those in their care— little children and their parishioners. As much as the recent Pennsylvania church news has shocked the world, it has been especially devastating to all Catholics. Love, trust, leadership expectations, spiritual enrichment, friendship, sacramental education, and so much more we have believed to be the role of our priests to deliver. Our earthly journey towards eternity has been entwined with our priests and is a journey that we could never make alone. Jesus says: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (9 John 14:6) We have asked our priests for thousands of years—‘show me the way.’

Another consequence of this terrible issue and most unfortunately lost in the shuffle is the fact that in spite of the magnitude of the damage spread before us is the fact that many of our priests are good, decent, holy men, doing what they promised to do in their ordination vows. And keeping these vows under very strenuous circumstances is just that. Now to acknowledge these men is not to ignore what has been done to these victims and their families. To recognize the goodness in some is not to forget the serious sinfulness in others. There can be the temptation for many never to darken the doors of the church again; to condemn all religious; to be no longer a believer; etc. We, the believers, down through the centuries have witnessed much that we know displeases our Creator. And yet we know that He loves us and will deal with the sinner in His own way. Our ways are not His ways. But we must not forget His ways are the ways we should always have remembered to obey. Remember the past and current missionaries and numerous saints (ordinary people) who have willingly given their lives for Jesus’ teachings. Our world has always been full of heroic goodness. And yet today our devoted religious are suffering greatly in witness.

Let us not forget the sin but remember also forgiveness and justice where necessary and to say thank you and to support those who deserve it. And let us not forget what we are: a prayerful people who recognize when others are in trouble. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Pray now often and more often for those who are in need— good and not so good. And pray that the existing evil at work in this world will be suffocated by God’s goodness. God won’t do this alone as He has always asked for our help. There, but for the grace of God, I might be.