Column: With faith, not fear, is the way to greet the new year

by Lesle Knop

A few words from Archbishop Joseph Naumann about trust and hope changed my attitude and my heart.

A few months ago, many of the archdiocese’s priests gathered at the chancery to pray, share a meal, and learn about the results of the 2008 Archbishop’s Call to Share. One of the responsibilities of our office is to manage the annual appeal.

Before the meeting, I gave a copy of my talk to the archbishop, along with the usual meeting notes. I prepared to speak to the priests about our Call to Share results, our goal for 2009, the current state of the American economy, and our needs in the church. In my little speech, I planned to talk about the pressures our parishioners were facing and the church’s challenges of finding resources to meet the growing demands for ministry and social services in the face of competition, layoffs, and the dismal plummet of the stock market.

About an hour before the meeting, the archbishop called me to his office. With a few brief, thoughtful words, he transformed my thinking. He pointed out to me that the words I had chosen expressed not my faith, but my fear; not hope, but skepticism.

“We need to be unafraid,” Archbishop Naumann said. “We know that people will be called to do even more.”

He reminded me that a steward’s “sacrificial giving” is a blessing for the giver.

With those few words, I could feel the warmth of God’s grace fill my heart and understanding. If I am to follow Jesus as my model of stewardship, then I need to remember that stewardship is what I do after I say, “I believe!”

With these words — “Be not afraid” — we can greet a new year, focused on blessings instead of challenges and with grateful hearts for the gift of the Christ child, life itself, faith and community, freedom and the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.

It sure is tough to be ever-faithful when the world pushes its way into my consciousness. I don’t always put my trust in God the way I should. Maybe that’s just the human condition. In our Bible study this fall at my parish, we learned how God’s chosen leaders often failed to put their trust in God.

Perhaps we each need reminders to not worry so much as we attempt to control the world around us and to turn to God in prayer for strength and comfort. Thank you for your generous support of the Archbishop’s Call to Share in 2008. Let’s greet the new year free from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Leave a Reply