JANUARY 20 is the feast of St. Sebastian, the Patron Saint of the Diocese of Bacolod. It was the fiesta of the whole diocese as we have entrusted it to the care and intercession of our beloved Patron Saint, San Sebastian.
During the Fiesta Mass, the Cathedral was jam-packed with the laity and the clergy. It was the day also that the bishop has envisioned the "Spirituality of Stewardship" to be embraced by all the members of the diocese from the bishop to the clergy and the religious and to all laity. He referred to the church today as the "Listening Church." In the mass, two historical promulgations were made; the outline of the diocesan pastoral program and the guidelines for Catholic schools in the diocese.
The spirituality of stewardship was highlighted by the bishop as the focus of the life of every member of the Diocese of Bacolod.
There is a need at this time to embrace this spirituality. The deeper understanding of stewardship should be embraced. We need to understand that we are just stewards and not owners of the temporal things in this world. Even our life, we have no ownership but we are only stewards of it. We are also stewards of our bodies.
How can I return back to God the gifts He had given me? This is the question that should be reflected upon by every individual. We should not only ask what can God give us as blessings but as stewards we should ask how we can return to God what He has given us. Most of us think that what we have are just ours and therefore belong to us. It should be noted that we have to see these gifts as blessings for others through us. Once we understand the essence of stewardship, giving and sharing are two things that go with it.
It will be very easy for us to share what we have and it will be easier for us to really give. The real meaning of stewardship could be felt when one person feels the joy of sharing and giving with no strings attached to the gifts he gives. Today, the concept of stewardship is just a conceptual term for most of us. It is yet very hard to put it into operation. Stewardship has not yet settled down in our beings. We give or share only when there is a "need" or when there are calamities.
We do things not from our hearts. We can count with our fingers the people who embrace the real essence of stewardship. Once we asked the Holy Spirit to divest ourselves with the material possessions and positions that we are in, it is only here that we have in our hearts the real essence of stewardship. We cannot do it alone; we need the Holy Spirit to work on us. It becomes part of our spirituality. The good bishop talked about materialism and commercialism within the church.
These are realities to be confronted with. The proper understanding of stewardship could change all of these. When the laity understands fully his role in the church, all these manifestations of materialism will be eradicated. The bishop also shared that there is a need for us to be grateful, responsible, and generous.
Each of us must acknowledge the gifts that God has given us. There is a need for us to be responsible for the gifts God has given us. These gifts should be multiplied through sharing and giving. In the end, we become generous and we truly become stewards of the goods and of our brethren. As a listening church, the diocese launched the Diocesan Pastoral Program formulated from the encounters with the laity in the parishes. It was promulgated that the church must start with the family. The church should be the voice of the laity and not the laity as the voice of the church.
The Church should stand for the least, the lost and the last. St. Sebastian, pray for us.