As the Lenten Season brings us closer to the Passion and Cross of Jesus the Church asks us to prepare for Resurrection Sunday, Easter. Our clerics give us many ways to prepare. But, often overlooked is the teachings on Stewardship. To be more conscious of our responsibilities is a valued way of preparing for the Resurrection.
Our primary responsibility is the stewardship of Creation. According to CERC;
Christian stewardship is a way of living in which we recognize that everything belongs to God. All resources must be used for His glory and the common good. Solidarity is the fruit of stewardship. A steward is someone who handles affairs for someone else. . . This concept dates from the beginning of time when God entrusted the earth to Adam and Eve and their offspring (Genesis 1:26-28);
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So, God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
All men are stewards of the earth’s resources (Catechism 2402). This passage from Sacred Scripture provides the essential foundation for understanding what Christian stewardship means. . . While some may consider the term “dominion” in this passage to be the only direct reference to “stewardship”, the entire passage reveals that the stewardship expected of Adam and Eve and all of us has three essential characteristics; it is collective, it respects the purpose for which things exist, and it respects the dignity of each person.
The Pope and his brother Bishops began teaching about stewardship of creation as early as the 1960’s.
- “The Bible, from the first page on, teaches us that the whole of creation is for humanity, that it is men and women’s responsibility to develop it by intelligent effort and by means of their labor to perfect it, so to speak, for their use. If the world is made to furnish each individual with the means of livelihood and the instruments for growth and progress, all people have therefore the right to find in the world what is necessary for them”. (Populorum Progressio (“On the Development of Peoples”), Pope Paul VI, 1967, #22)
- Farm owners and farm workers are the immediate stewards of the natural resources required to produce the food that is necessary to sustain life. These resources must be understood as gifts of a generous God. When they are seen in that light and when the human race is perceived as a single moral community, we gain a sense of the substantial responsibility we bear as a nation for the world food system. Meeting human needs today and in the future demands an increased sense of stewardship and conservation. (Economic Justice for All, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1986, #228).
- Natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said, renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with absolute dominion, seriously endangers their availability not only for the present generation but above all for generations to come. (Solicitudo Rei Socialis (“On Social Concern,” Donders translation), Pope John Paul II, 1987, #34).
- Because of the blessings God has bestowed on our nation and the power it possesses, the United States bears a special responsibility in its stewardship of God’s creation to shape responses that serve the entire human family. As pastors, teachers, and citizens, we bishops seek to contribute to our national dialogue by examining the ethical implications of climate change. (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2001 #6).
- True stewardship requires changes in human actions—both in moral behavior and technical advancement… A renewed sense of sacrifice and restraint could make an essential contribution to addressing global climate change. (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), 2001 #18).
- The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. (Caritas in Veritate (“Charity in Truth”), Pope Benedict XVI, 2009, #51).
Therefore, we have inherited a legacy of responsibility from Adam and Eve to tend to, not outright own, Creation. Indeed, we are to have dominion over Creation. But this does not mean to abuse it as our property. It is to use Creation in conjunction with Gods will.