I recently acquired the daily devotional book entitled Take Five: On-the-job Meditations with St. Ignatius written by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna. In the “How to Use this Book” section, they invite the reader to jump around in finding meditations that are pertinent to today.
So today, relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I randomly opened the booklet and came upon the meditation Cross Examination. It draws upon St. Ignatius’ Exercise #53 and poses this question:
How is it that He has stooped to become one of us, to pass from eternal life to death here in time, that He might die for our sins?
It goes on to instruct us to – behold Christ in His plight, nailed to the cross, and ponder:
- What have I done for Christ?
- What am I doing for Christ?
- What ought I to do for Christ?
That socked me in the face. Punched me in the gut. What am I doing? What can I do?
Stewardship is a call to change how we understand and live our lives. It is living as a disciple of Christ and generously sharing our resources for the good of others and the glory of God. At a minimum, it demands sharing a tithe, or ten percent of all we have and all we are.
Consider these Bible verses on the subject of tithing:
Nos. 18: 29
From all the gifts that your receive, and from the best parts, you are to consecrate to the LORD your own full contribution.
Deut 14: 22
Each year you shall tithe all the produce that grows in the field you have sown.
Prov 3: 9
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce.
I got to thinking, “How much is a tithe? How much is ten percent of everything?”
The financial part is easy to figure. Calculating ten percent of my income is as simple as moving the decimal point one place to the left. This covers the Treasure part of stewardship.
But we hear of stewardship in the fuller context of Time, Talent and Treasure. Do I give ten percent of my Time and Talent? How do I figure that?
Again, Time is easy enough to calculate. I found these numbers both interesting and overwhelming. Consider:
- There are twelve months in the year. So, I am to tithe 1.2 months of the year to God.
- There are fifty-two weeks in the year. So, I am to tithe 5.2 weeks of the year to God.
- There are365 days in the year. So, I am to tithe 36.5 days of the year to God.
- There are 8760 hours in the year. So, I am to tithe 876 hours of the year to God.
How do I do that? Breaking these numbers down into more manageable bites still seems a little overwhelming – I am to tithe 2.5 hours per day; 18 hours per week; 3 days per month.
I struggle with trying to compartmentalize my life. The above calculations have me wondering how in the world am I going to take 2.5 hours of my day or 3 days every month away from family and work, and give that to God? It is too hard. I can’t do it.
St. Ignatius understood that. His solution was to bring Christ into the workday. He was able to see the supernatural dimension in his everyday tasks whether mundane or difficult. He embodied the teaching of Paul who urged in Corinthians that in everything we do, we are to do everything for the glory of God. Tithing then becomes more than ten percent. It is giving all of everything.
The meditation in Take Five asks, “When I do good things, do I tell Jesus I am doing them for Him?”
That’s how I can tithe my talent and time. I can incorporate Christ into my workday. I can change how I understand and live my life. This is what Stewardship is all about.