Annie Watson ARCWP
For many people, stewardship is a boring topic, a bit of a snoozer. It is boring to a lot of people if for no other reason than we’ve heard it all before. Yes, of course we need to donate our time, talent, and treasure to our parish. Ho-hum.
It is even more challenging to talk about stewardship because we don’t feel as connected to the church as we usually do. While some of you might feel comfortable coming to our Saturday drive-in Mass, not everyone feels comfortable setting foot in our sanctuary. If you have had contact with other parishioners, it is more limited or restricted.
Because of that, some of you might be tempted to just roll over, go back to sleep, and wait for this national nightmare to be over. To those of you who might be tempted to nap through this pandemic in terms of your stewardship responsibilities, let me offer some sage advice in the form of a warning: “If you snooze, you lose.”
This is a familiar phrase that means: If we wait too long to do something, the opportunity to do something might become unavailable. If we do not take stewardship seriously and maintain a ready posture, then things that are important to us could disappear.
I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist. Obviously, St. Stanislaus is blessed to have great facilities and resources, but nothing is unlimited, especially human resources. You and me.
Part of what I’m talking about is the need for us to continue our financial support, knowing that this has become more difficult or impossible for some. But I’m also talking about the need for us to continue to be as connected as possible, to pray for one another, to call one another, to be aware of one another’s needs, to maintain, if not build up, the sense of community that has been carefully cultivated here at St. Stanislaus for decades.
Now is not the time to take a nap from the church hoping that someone will shake our shoulders and wake us up when the world returns to normal. Now is not the time to let the oil run dry in our lamps.
The core teaching of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25 is about patience and preparation. How long will we need to be patient with all the restrictions and limitations set upon us because of the coronavirus? And how much time, talent, and treasure do we need to offer to be adequately prepared for a return to normalcy?
This parable is a familiar one. Jesus is a master storyteller. This one is about ten bridesmaids. One of their customs was for the bridesmaids to go and meet the bridegroom. Unfortunately, he is delayed, although we are not told why. Impromptu bachelor party, perhaps? Regardless, daylight turns to darkness.
Five of the bridesmaids prepare for a long evening by bringing extra oil for their lamps, and five probably do not even consider the possibility that the bridegroom will be such a procrastinator, especially on the night of his wedding banquet.
The night wears on. Not wanting to just sit in darkness, they light their little oil lamps, and yet after a while they become drowsy and fall asleep as their lamps slowly extinguish. Finally, at midnight, they hear someone shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” As they stir from their slumber, they realize their lamps have all gone out. Those who brought extra oil keep their lamps going by adding more oil and trimming the lamp.
The others—called the five “foolish” bridesmaids—are not able to do so. They are forced to go out after midnight to buy some oil. While they are away, the five “wise” bridesmaids meet up with the bridegroom and accompany him to the wedding banquet. The door is shut, and when the other five finally arrive to the banquet hall they are not allowed to come in.
This is a perfect story to hear in the year 2020. Until now, we have always been ready to add more oil when necessary to keep our lamps lit. we have always been ready to offer more time, talent, and treasure to this community.
But now, in the year 2020, we are at risk of falling asleep because we can’t do as much as we used to. We can’t devote as much time or talent to this community as we have in the past, and some of us can’t even add as much treasure as we used to.
Now we have two choices. We can either a) not worry about adding any more oil to our lamps, hoping that when the pandemic is over, life will return to normal and we can just wake up and pick up where we left off; or b) continue to be good stewards of this expression of Christ’s body to the best of our ability.
Yes, stewardship can be a bit of snoozer, and until this national nightmare is over, it is much easier to just get some shuteye. But if we want to do what it takes to keep St. Stanislaus going, then we will make sure our lamps stay lit. Always remember what some wise old sage must have said once upon a time: “You snooze, you lose.” Amen.