Step Five - Be a Steward of the Kingship of Christ

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled." Does this mean Christians should live in a constant state of euphoria, blissfully untroubled by anything around them? When the church in Antioch was troubled, that troubled the church in Jerusalem! They wrote with concern, "We have heard that certain persons... have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds" (see Acts 15:1-2, 22-29).

 

The fact is, there are things we should be troubled about: the sins that are not recognized as sins. These include:

 

  • cultural values accepted as Christianity;

  • our failure to love our enemies;

  • the unchallenged addiction to power and prestige in all places;

  • mediocrity encouraged as if there were nothing else to strive for;

  • the continued existence of the death penalty, of poverty, violence and war in nations peopled by believers in Jesus Christ;

  • and worst of all, perhaps, the fact that so few members of the Church are saying anything to "disturb us and unsettle our minds!"

 

Christians are among those who do and approve of these things. When is it good to be troubled, and when is it not? Jesus gave us a clue. After he said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled," he continued, "and do not let them be afraid." Disturbance rooted in fear is not Christian; disturbance rooted in love is. This is the difference between a watchdog and a prophet.

 

We see people in the Church whose basic stance seems to be defensiveness. They themselves seem to be "disturbed and unsettled in their minds" because of all those people out there who are undermining the Church with new ideas, new ways of explaining Scripture, of celebrating the liturgy, of understanding Christian morality, even of praying. Are they right in what they criticize? Sometimes, yes. But in the measure that their disturbance seems rooted in fear and defensiveness, it is suspect.

 

When the "apostles and the elders, with the consent of the whole church" in Jerusalem responded to the disturbance among the Gentile Christians, they said it was because "certain persons... with no instructions from us have said things to disturb you and have unsettled your minds." The troublemakers were not acting in union with the Church. And we should be concerned about anything that is divisive.

 

Prophets also speak "with no instructions" from anybody except the Holy Spirit. So the church in Jerusalem met to discuss and discern. They came to a decision based on three things: Scripture, the spiritual experiences of those involved, and practical concern for the sensibilities of those who had to live with the decision (see Acts 15: 7-9, 12, 15-18, 28-29). They listened to the Holy Spirit speaking through all the members, intent on arriving at unity and peace. When they made their decision, it was "with the consent of the whole church."

 

All of us have to be concerned about everything that is not renewed by the reign of Christ, because by Baptism we became sharers in his kingship. As his stewards we need to take responsibility for bringing "all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship" (see Ephesians 1:10 NAB 1970). We are driven by a divine restlessness until every area and activity of human life has been brought to fulfillment under his life-giving reign.

 

The greatest obstacle to this is fear. We fear what we might lose, what might happen to us if we do not sing in harmony with our culture, if we raise our voices against the chorus of the crowd. And down deep we think it is hopeless. We are overwhelmed by the strength and numbers of the powers in place. We think nothing can be done, that things will always be as we have always known them to be.

 

To this the risen Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled or be afraid... Take courage; I have overcome the world!"

 
QUESTIONS

 

 

  • What do you recognize as your "religious responsibilities"? (List them). Is the responsibility for changing things around you one of them? Is it one you are conscious of always? Most of the time? Occasionally?

 

  • What in our society keeps people from accepting the values Jesus taught? Have you thought about trying to change these things instead of just putting up with them?

 

  • Do you ever feel anger or bitterness because of the way things are at home, at work or at school, in the Church? How do you handle these feelings? Do you let them push you to positive action?

 

  • What could you start trying to change right now? Where? What gives you the confidence to try? Who might work with you? How could you begin?

 

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS: Try some of these to get started.

 

 

  • When you drive through a bad part of town say to yourself "I’m responsible for this."

 

  • Take a trash bag with you as you walk or jog and pick up some trash.

 

  • What kinds of things is your parish doing to transform the world? Get involved with one of them.

 

  • Does the company you work for treat all of the employees fairly? Get to know people at various levels in your company and find out.

 

  • Reduce the amount of trash you throw away. Recycle everything you can.

 

  • Plant a tree because you recognize the value it will have for future generations and people you will never meet.

 

  • Don’t deny responsibility by assigning blame. Remember what your Mother used to say "I don’t care who messed it up, I told you to clean it up.

 

SUPPORT MATERIALS 

Here are some of Fr. Knight's Books (see Book Store) on Stewardship that will help you grow in your commitment.

 

  • His Way: Chapters Ten and Eleven: The key to lay spirituality: risk

  • Reaching Jesus: Step Five: The Choice to be a Steward

  • The Five Promises of Baptism: “The Fifth Promise: Victory”

  • Five Steps to the Father: “Phrase, Phase Five: Give… and Forgive: Abandonment

  • Nuts and Bolts of Daily Spirituality, Chapter Six: “Just Notice”

  • Living the Sacraments: Chapters Eleven to Thirteen: Anointing and Eucharist: the Sacraments of Enduring Love

  • Experiencing the Mass: The Fifth Moment of Mystery: “The Rite of Communion”

  • A Fresh Look at Confession: Chapter Five: “The Sacrament of Stewardship”

  • Mary in an Adult Church: Chapter Six: Assumed into Heaven

  • Until He Comes (from the Series on Matthew’s Gospel): whole book

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Immersed in Christ is a 501 (c) (3) Charitable Organization.

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