Everyday Stewardship

Recognize God In Your Ordinary Moments

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July 3, 2022 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When God Speaks Like a Polish Grandmother

A friend of mine had a Polish grandmother who was famous for giving her children some blunt advice every time they left the house: “Eyes straight ahead. Mind your own business.”

Every mother knows her children best, and this mother knew hers liked to argue and sometimes liked to show off. She knew that could lead to trouble. She could not anticipate every scenario they would encounter each time they departed from her. All she could do was distill what she knew about life, safety, and manners into a few simple words, and hand them over to her children like a set of car keys or a hastily scribbled map. In this way, a woman who rarely said “I love you” expressed her devotion. And long after she was dead and buried, her aging sons and daughters repeated these words to themselves, like a child wrapping himself in a warm blanket.

Jesus does much the same for us, in many portions of the Gospels. “Ask the master to send out laborers for his harvest…Carry no money…Eat what is set before you…Know that the Kingdom of God is at hand…Rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.”

He knows us best — knows our strengths, but even more importantly, he knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t always have the space to address each of these explicitly in the pages of Scripture, but what he can do is distill the truth of effective evangelization into a few simple words, and hand them over to us as food for our journey of discipleship. In this way, a God who addresses the entire world and every soul who ever lived also speaks intimately to each one of us.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

June 19, 2022 - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Sacred Vessels

Have you ever paid attention to the purification of the sacred vessels after Holy Communion? If you haven’t, I highly recommend doing so this Sunday. See the care with which the priest handles the chalice and the paten, pouring water into them to cleanse any loose particles of the Body and Blood of Christ. Observe the loving reverence he uses in wiping them dry with a special purificator. It’s a ritual unto itself, and a powerful moment for reflection.

These vessels begin as earthly objects. They are made by human hands. There is nothing special about them — not until they go about the work for which they have been created. Until they contain the Body and Blood of Christ, they are only ordinary objects. But after they have carried within them the Eucharist, they are never the same. They will always be special and deserving of special care.

That’s why partaking of the Eucharist is, for us, an evangelical undertaking. It is both a transformation and a declaration. When we accept this tremendous gift, we are proclaiming what we believe, and we are accepting the grace to follow through on that commitment.

When we are receiving the Eucharist, it is not possible for us to be passive. We become the vessel. We carry Christ into the world with us.

But do we act like it? Do we treat ourselves — our bodies, our souls — with the same respect as the priest cleansing the chalice? Do we treat one another with the reverence we would reserve for a sacred object? When we look at another person with anger or irritation or envy, do we acknowledge the change that we have willingly undergone by receiving Christ’s Body and Blood into ourselves?

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

June 12, 2022 -  The Most Holy Trinnity

Up to the Job

Have you ever had a job for which you didn’t feel qualified? I think we all have, whether it was a paying gig or not. A lot of us parents often feel in awe of the magnitude of that role and lose sleep worrying that we made the wrong decision in one situation or a bad call in another. Some of us feel intimidated by what our communities need from us, on the parish level or in our personal relationships. Or maybe we are simply dreading a task that seems too big, too overwhelming — that necessary basement cleanout, or the weekly organization of family schedules.

When we don’t feel qualified, we don’t want to do the work. We get stuck in our own fear. That’s the birthplace of procrastination, self-doubt and bitterness. When we look inward at our own abilities, we can only see all the traits that aren’t there. The intelligence, the dexterity, the ambition — whatever it is we lack, we get stuck on it.

I’ve got good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news: none of us are qualified for the call of discipleship. We simply aren’t. We don’t have the love or grace or strength to get the job done.

Now I’ll give you the good news: God knows this, and He doesn’t care. Stewardship does not insist that we possess every good quality — no, as a way of life, stewardship recognizes that we lack so many qualities. But it shows us where to find the love and grace and strength we need. Stewardship does not demand that we know every answer; it merely reminds us who to ask when we don’t.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

June 5, 2022 - Pentecost Sunday

Do You Speak Stewardship?

If you are married, I’m guessing that you know the best way to break bad news to your spouse, whether you realize it or not. Maybe it’s simply that you know not to talk about the budget after your wife’s football team has lost. Maybe you know your husband will take the news that your sister is coming to stay a little easier if you tell him over his favorite dinner. We do the same thing with our children, our friends, our coworkers — we have all learned the language of the people we love.

The truth is the same in every language, but it’s important for us to convey that truth graciously. That’s what Pentecost teaches us. The gift of being able to speak in tongues afforded the Apostles a practical skill to spread the Gospel message, but it also served as a powerful symbol of the importance of effective communication. Evangelization can only happen when you’re speaking in words a person is able, ready, and willing to hear.

Let’s ask ourselves: what is the language we need to speak to share the truth with the person who is standing in front of us? Is it the language of quality time? The language of concern? The language of laughter and friendship? The language of authenticity, of plain talk and frankness?

The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the ability to speak in tongues, and it seems miraculous when we read about it in the Gospels — but only consider that we all have this same ability, in a certain way. The Holy Spirit can and will show us how to speak the truth, if we only ask.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

May 29, 2022 - 7th Sunday of Easter

God’s Game of Telephone

You’ve probably played the game of “pass it on” before, maybe years ago on the playground. It’s a simple concept: one person whispers something in another person’s ear, and it gets repeated person by person throughout the group, until finally the last one to hear the message has to say it out loud. Whatever ends up being said at the end of the game is usually a far cry from the original statement, and everyone has a good laugh.

As individuals, we don’t receive news in the same way. Our personalities, our histories, our weaknesses, and our strengths determine how we interact with information we encounter in the world, both good and bad. One person will interpret a compliment positively; someone else will take offense. One person reacts to news of a job promotion with joy, another is disappointed that now they will have less time with their family. The same news can mean completely different things to different people.

But what God gives us is the truth in love, and the truth in love is the same in every place and in every time, for every person of every race. When Christ prayed to the Father that “the love with which you loved me may be in them,” he was asking that the magnificent gift that had been imparted to him would also be imparted to us.

Our job is to play a game of pass it on with this gift of love. How do we keep it from becoming warped? Through remaining committed to the word of God, to the sacraments, and to one another.

In this game, we don’t change the message. The message changes us. And we have to give it away to keep it.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

May 22, 2022 - 6th Sunday of Easter

Management According to the Apostles

If you’ve ever worked in any kind of organization, for-profit or not-for-profit, I’m sure you have attended a conference or two. Whatever our expectations going in, I usually find these conferences expose me to communication and problem-solving styles that are different from my own, nudging me into a little unexpected self-discovery. And it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and do something different.

Here’s my idea for a leadership conference: The Management Style of the Apostles. Think about it, the only thing the Apostles had more abundantly than holiness was problems. Lots and lots of problems ... most of them of the human resources variety. It’s no small feat, starting Christ’s Church on earth. I wouldn’t want to be project manager of that endeavor.

The Acts of the Apostles is, in some ways, a big book full of problems and ways to solve them. It’s a blueprint for tackling interpersonal issues in the manner of a true steward, who encounters every problem starting from the same place: What would my Master want?

It’s a question we should be asking ourselves every time we, too, encounter a problem — especially problems relating to other people. What is the truth in this situation, and how would God have me communicate it? How could I handle this in a way that is worthy of the name of my Master?

In Acts, we see a lot of characteristics of everyday stewardship. We see the Apostles mindfully acknowledge the lack of peace that is posed by problems like false teachings, this Gospel’s problem du jour. They prayerfully confront the obstacles to salvation posed by these issues. Always, always, always, their main objective is to reveal the will of God, remaining committed to the truth while helping newcomers find avenues to salvation.

Maybe I'm just saying it because it’s my idea — but it sounds like a conference we could all use.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

May 15, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Easter

Loving as New Creations

“There’s something different about you.”

Think about the times in your life when this has been said to you. Maybe it was after someone complimented you on a job well done, and you realized that you were walking through life with a little more confidence. Maybe it was after meeting someone special, as you carried the glow of that relationship wherever you went. Chances are, if someone has noticed something different about you, it’s because, inwardly, you’ve been changed by the loving or respectful actions of another person.

Love, you see, can make us into new creations. From the love of God flows the grace to tackle any challenge, including the biggest challenge of all: loving each other well. Christ knows what a big request this is. He was human, too. He came and lived among us. He knew intimately what it was to love people in the chaos of their own flaws. He knew what he was asking of us when he said, “As I have loved you, so you should also love one another.”

In essence, this is the call to stewardship: loving as Christ loves, amidst the messiness of everyday reality. Loving with accountability, challenging ourselves and our brothers and sisters to be faithful even when it is hard. Loving with an unflinching sense of hospitality that welcomes even those we do not agree with or understand. Loving with gratitude, giving thanks for the great variety of ways that Christ can make himself known to us through others.  

It isn’t easy — we all know that. But if we ask God for the grace to remain steadfast in this greatest commandment, we will be given what we need to live as new creations.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

May 8, 2022 - 4th Sunday of Easter

Reluctant Sheep

Sheep get an awfully bad rap, linguistically. Some are quick to label people as “sheep” if we think they haven’t sufficiently questioned authority or if they’re too willing to go along with someone else’s plan. We say someone has “the wool over their eyes” if they aren’t willing to see what we think is very obvious. “A wolf in sheep’s clothing” is what we call someone looking to take advantage of those too gullible to identify a real threat.

Taking all this into account and considering how often we are referred to as sheep in Scripture, you’ve really got to wonder if God trying to tell us something about ourselves.

If you look at the phraseology associated with sheep, it’s no wonder that nobody wants to be one. Sheep are innocent. Sheep can’t protect themselves. They’re vulnerable and easily misled.

We want to see ourselves as the opposite of all that. We like to think we’re shrewd, with plenty of common sense. We want to believe that we don’t have to rely on anybody for anything. We would sooner identify with the wolf than with the sheep — at least the wolf can take care of himself.

We do this because we often resist the need to rest in the greatness of God. Like a child walking to school alone for the first time (forgetting his mom is following watchfully in the car), we want to think we can handle it all by ourselves.

The truth is that God is trying to tell us something by comparing us to sheep: You don’t have to do this on your own.

Every time I look at an obstacle and think that there is no way around it, I am forgetting that I have a shepherd who knows the location of the gate.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

May 1, 2022 - 3rd Sunday of Easter

Gifts in Disguise

Have you ever opened a gift and wondered what the giver was thinking?

I won’t call out any of my family or friends here, but suffice to say, I think we have all been the confused recipient of a sweater that wasn't our size or a gift card to a store where we don’t shop. But we smiled all the same and said how much it meant to us, because we know that when it comes to gifts, it’s all about the gesture.

Suffering is a lot like that — the gift you never asked for, and don’t really want to receive. Sometimes we look at suffering and, like the apostles who see Jesus as a stranger on the shore, we don’t recognize it for what it can be. We don’t appreciate the catalyst suffering can be for change, for growth, for grace.

What was the gift that you received in disguise? Was it a relationship that confounded and frustrated you? Was it a job that tested your spirit? An obstacle that stopped you dead in your tracks? A rejection that threatened to break your spirit?

If I go back and look at the worst gifts I’ve ever gotten, chances are that I didn’t like them because I didn’t know what to do with them — they were more fitted for someone else’s interests, someone else’s life. It’s the same with suffering. We’re tempted to cast suffering aside when it comes our way because it doesn’t fit the person we are. Suffering is made to fit the person God knows we have the ability, with His grace, to become.

Hang onto that suffering. Unlike the misshapen sweater, it really will come in handy.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

April 24, 2022 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday
The World Is Watching

If you’re a parent, you know this to be true: the world is watching. All it takes is one slip-up — one bad word, one selfish action, one uncharitable commentary, and that’s the thing your child seems to notice.

When he or she calls you on it, the only thing you can do is come clean. “Yep, I did that,” you have to say. “I’m a work in progress, but luckily, God never stops working.”

I think it’s fair to say that we don’t think enough about the wounds of Christ. It’s a little understandable, of course. Our human bodies flinch at the sight of such pain and mortification. It’s a lot to handle, the physical trauma of a crucifixion. It carries an R rating in a PG world.

But the wounds of Christ are the only thing that could make Thomas believe. Literally nothing else was so powerful, not even the testimony of his most trusted friends. Only by looking at and feeling the torn flesh — by beholding that messy reality — did this Apostle, this actual companion of Christ, come to believe in the Resurrection.

“Christ has no body now but yours,” goes the famous quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila. What she’s saying is that we have become the means through which God chooses to accomplish His will in the world. Us, the broken. Us, the weary. Us, the imperfect. Yes, miraculous events and apparitions still occur from time to time, but by and large, if a person is going to come to believe in Jesus Christ in this day and age, it will be because of something we Christians do or say.

Christ has no wounds now but ours. Our brokenness, our weariness, our imperfection — our reality. It all belongs to him, and the world is watching.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS


April 17, 2022 - Easter Sunday
Leave It in the Tomb

Today, on the most important day of the liturgical year, the Apostle Paul is calling us out.

“I see you hiding in that tomb,” he says. “I see you baking with that old, stale yeast, thinking no one will notice.”

He says it a little more elegantly, I’ll grant you. But the message is this: If you want to be raised with Christ, you’d better be ready to step out of the shadows. Seek what is above — not what is on earth.

I can feel myself responding almost reflexively, “Great idea, Paul — but I’m pretty comfy here.” Because sometimes, it’s just easier to stay in the tomb. It’s easier to crouch in the shadows and look outward at everyone else, thinking of the changes they could make or the sins they could overcome.

Today we are called to embrace newness. New hearts, new lives, new futures, new chances. If there’s anything keeping you from that, you need to leave it in the tomb. It’s a little scary, sure — maybe Jesus thought so before he stepped into the light of that first Easter morning. But no loaf of bread worth eating was ever baked using stale yeast that wouldn’t rise. No new life worth having was ever lived through the broken sins of yesterday. No Easter morning ever dawned without the tomb sitting empty.

Step into the light. He is waiting for you.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

April 10, 2022 - Palm Sunday
A God Who Knows How It Feels

Christ could have spoken anything from the cross, so why did he choose to recite Psalm 22? And why is it so important that we recite that same Psalm at today’s Mass?

“My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?”

We’ve never known the Jesus of the Gospels to doubt the will of God. We’ve never known him to be a defeatist or to give into feelings of despair. He’s the hero who walks on water, the Savior who is welcomed to Jerusalem with a pathway of palms. And he knows how this story ends; he knows full well that his Father has absolutely not abandoned him.

So why does he say this? Jesus doesn’t make offhanded comments, especially in his last hour. Today, when we repeat the words that he calls out in his darkest moment, we must remember that he wants us, very particularly, to consider them.

With his crucifixion, Jesus reminds us of his humanity. He is a man of flesh that can be torn and blood that can be shed. Somehow, in tandem with his divinity, he still possesses a heart that knows fear and pain and longing. And with this seemingly hopeless cry, he reminds us of that.

Let us never doubt that Jesus can relate to us in our brokenness. This is the week, friends. This is the week that reminds us that our God is a God who knows every pang, every trembling, and every uncertainty of human life. Our God knows what abandonment feels like. He knows what rejection feels like. He knows what it is to keep going when the strength and the will has disappeared.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

April 3, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Lent
Make a Way  

What’s your comfort zone: emotionally, professionally, personally? We all have one. But did you realize that you can have one spiritually? Think about what you like and what you don’t particularly enjoy when it comes to church, prayer, and liturgy. We all have “those songs” we crinkle our noses at, either because they’re too modern or too old-fashioned. We all have “those people” in our parish whose ideas we aren’t so sure about, whether that’s because they’re trying to change too much or because they seem always to be looking toward the past. Also, when was the last time you sat on the OTHER side of the church during Mass?

As much as we may not want to admit it, even (and especially) as people of God, we get deeply attached to our own personal comfort zones — and we tend to view those outside with distrust.

But what if God had a comfort zone? What if He viewed us, in our sin and our misery, as too “far away” from Himself to reach? Thankfully, our God is a God who “opens a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters.” Our God is a God who does “something new.”

The call to stewardship demands that we look outside of ourselves. Our thoughts, our opinions, our preferences — these things are not important to the steward. Even if there is a vast, dry desert of discord, or a seemingly endless wasteland of opposing views between us and our neighbor, God challenges us to “make a way” out of our comfort zone, that together we may announce His praise.

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS


March 27, 2022 - 4th Sunday of Lent
The Face on God’s Brochure

When a church is raising funds for a new building or a diocese is launching a stewardship appeal, there is usually someone — or several someone’s — who serves as the face of the campaign. Maybe it’s a married couple, or a family, or a group of folks who have been particularly active in the community and can speak to the worthiness of whatever endeavor is being undertaken.

Oftentimes, for better or worse, we fill that role for God. We are the face on the front of His promotional brochure. If we call ourselves Christians, that means that people will meet Christ through us. That’s what being an Everyday Steward is — a steward, everyday; someone who conducts his Master’s business when the Master is not seen.

It can be intimidating because we have so much baggage and no capabilities of our own. But then we remember that we are offered reconciliation through Christ — that “the old things have passed away, (and) new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We remember that we are the prodigal sons, and the fattened calf has been slaughtered on our behalf.

But it’s a role that requires commitment. The story of the prodigal son is only compelling and only means something because the son, presumably, embraced his reconciliation to his father. He didn’t go on to abandon him again.

So let us think to ourselves each day, “Whoever I encounter will meet Christ’s ambassador. I was dead and have come to life again. How can I speak to the worthiness of that reconciliation? How can I make others desire it?”

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS