Getting Beyond the “Have to” and “Have Not”

In the world after the Fall caused by Original Sin, we have witnessed many evils, injustices, corruptions, and abuses of power throughout history and even now in our very own day and age. On top of that, our postmodern world is trying very hard to push its self-centered agenda to lead our young people away from traditional values, especially the foundational concept of personal responsibilities and duties by overly emphasizing freedom and the right to choose whatever one wants. There are so many people around us who are constantly worried about what they should have and what they do not have, always stuck in their own self-created hell because they are never happy with what they have at the moment. So many people around us are anxious, frustrated, and depressed because they are locked in their own pitiful modes of envy and jealousy. Yet, in a world that is filled with egocentric individualism, we are called to be faithful prudent stewards whom the Master puts in charge of His household. (cf. Luke 12:32-48)

The one thing I am afraid of is that our day and age have stopped searching for the truth as we become compliant with whatever is being told to us through popular opinions or the self-serving academia circle. Since we have stopped searching for the truth, we have become mediocre and stuck in our false pretense of tolerance since everything is relative and subjective for personal interpretations. Since we have become so focused on the immediate, apparent, and appealing parts of life, we desire to have gratification right away, and that is why too many people have given up the desire to be holy or seek to be like the saints of the past. We have become a society that is becoming increasingly focused on our own particular goods instead of the desire to seek something higher, greater, or worthwhile beyond what could be beneficial for us in our hedonistic calculation.

We either have become too comfortable with what we have and where we are now, thinking that we have things under control and are able to reach our goals if we try a bit harder, or we have become so lost and out of touch with reality in the light of eternity that we simply want to ignore, suppress, and tell ourselves to only focus on the now. We think that if we just have more money, power, control, beauty, and health, we will be happy and fine. We think that as long we continue to make cutting-edge medical and technological advances, we will all be fine and safe because we are lessening the unknown and uncontrollable. Nonetheless, reality tells us that our lives are not that secure. According to a United Nations report, there are around 270,000 people who die each day, which means a little more than 10,000 each hour, or around 200 each minute. Reality makes us sad, but it reminds us that each and every one of us has an expiration date!

How we live our lives is not judged by what we have! We are reminded over and over again in the Gospel that the Almighty will judge us according to how we have lived our lives as His stewards and how we give ourselves in caring service of others, especially the forgotten and least of our brethren. Without a doubt, each and every one of us has to be good stewards of the gifts given to us, and this is not something privileged or reserved for leaders, geniuses, the wealthy, or those who are in decision-making positions. Each of us, no matter how big or small, has gifts to be shared for the greater good of all! As a matter of fact, we have so many great blessings as citizens of one of the most powerful and wealthiest countries in the world, and that comes with great responsibilities. We are called to not only care about our own personal, political, or national goods and interests, but share our talents, gifts, and blessings with others as well.

At the annual Northwest Deanery Confirmation Retreat, hosted by the Midwestern State University Catholic Campus Center, there is always a meaningful skit done by the college students to pervade the message of generosity and stewardship. It begins with a person who has many gifts but is always anxious about losing them, so this person kept them close to heart. However, as the gifts are being held close, fear and anxiety begin to develop. The gifts also get smaller and smaller with time. However, when the person decides to be attentive to others and chooses to share the beautiful gifts in service, those gifts grow exponentially. Without a doubt, the gifts of life, talent, intellect, health, and the like are all given and endowed to us by God, not to be held close to our chest but to be shared with others close and connected to us. If we think about it, everything we have today was not achieved by our own abilities but given by His divine providence and goodness; therefore, they are not for us to keep but are gifts of God given to us to be shared.

St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata taught us that God does not call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful. As good stewards, we are called to be both faithful and prudent. Our faithfulness invites us to multiply and put into practice the gifts endowed to us by the Almighty. As prudent stewards, we have to learn to share and work with others. We cannot use our power and abilities to oppress others, be filled with falsehood and lies to slander and paint a false picture, or use our intellect and talents to benefit only us and our plans. We are called to use all these things for the greater glory of God!

Also, as good and faithful stewards, we have to be aware and alert as to keep an eye on our journey toward Him, waiting for His return or when He calls us to Himself. This life is short and we all have expiration dates! We, therefore, cannot live as if we are immortal, without responsibilities, ignorant of our duties, or simply act as self-centered people. As Christians, we are called to wait in hope, justice, and truth. We have to do what is right and proper according to what God and the Church teach, to serve without demanding to be glorified, and to love even though it is hard to love at times.

If we live in this theocentric way of life, our conscious awareness and hope-filled way of life will help us be ready for Him no matter when He might return. Whenever He comes, He will see us in our armor of service and love. Whenever He arrives, the Master will see His stewards caring for others and doing what is right — where we need to be all along — because we are simply sharing the blessings and gifts given to us. We do not need to worry about what our society, its false propaganda, populism, or different shallow ideologies try to dupe and tell us what we need to have or do not have right now. We do not need to live in constant comparison, depression, anxieties, or worries caused by envy and jealousy if we know who we are and what we have as blessings and gifts to be shared by the Creator. Therefore, let us try our best to live the fullness of life by how we serve one another as brothers and sisters, as stewards of His love by how we care for each other, and as instruments of His grace by how we put our dependency and trust in Him.