When I was in high school I attended a weekly youth meeting where we would discuss the role of God in our lives and support one another in the journey of faith. In addition to other activities, each week we would have to share about what we did that week in terms of studying our faith. We could have read a book, studied scripture, talked to a priest or a friend, or even watched a video on a relevant topic. It didn’t matter what it was but you were expected to have done something. It is an example of that accountability I like to talk about in talking about characteristics of Everyday Stewards. The message sent to us as young people was that unless we grow in knowledge of our faith and exercise our mind in spiritual matters we will never grow and our faith is destined to remain immature, or worse, disappear.
John F. Kennedy once said, “The human mind is our fundamental resource.” We have been given our mind and intellect as gifts from God. As good stewards we are called to cultivate knowledge and develop our reasoning skills and offer them back to God and to the Body of Christ. The NAACP has it right with the slogan, “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
We are called to not only grow in knowledge of our faith, but also in knowledge of the world around us. Schools are getting back into session for the Fall here in the US and students everywhere have a chance to glorify God by expanding the mind and further developing the intellect God gave them. This is important to God and the community, as well as knowledge of faith. Our understanding of culture should embrace not only our experience as a follower of Jesus, but also our interactions with all of the human family and the universe surrounding us. We cannot divide up our lives into sections where things matter more in one section than another. Faith is the lens through which we see all things. Developing our mind in any discipline is never separated from our reality as believers. Reading a good novel, catching up on the daily news, and studying the latest science findings are all exercises of the mind that give glory to God.
Of course, looking around you can see that many modern people, including followers of Jesus, have no interest in learning things that matter. Our TV’s our over run with reality shows and entertainment of the lowest forms. Video games have become a primary source to learn about history and the science of human relationships. College degrees are seen as stepping-stones toward making more money instead of recognitions of scholarly achievement. And in many cases we see garbage in and garbage out as our society and culture continue to disintegrate into chaos and depravity.
But, I am no pessimist. While I am not blind to the reality before me, grace is greater. And answers lie inside each of us. One step in the right direction is to become wiser and smarter, as individuals and communities. Our faith is threatened when we cannot defend it due to ignorance of what we claim to believe. We are not taken seriously in the public arena when we cannot speak intelligently about matters of the human condition and then fall back into defenses of “it’s just a mystery.” Not only are we called to grow in knowledge of God, but also in knowledge of the world He created. Integration of all disciplines and increased knowledge of them should be an ultimate goal. Some Christians seek to live outside of the world. As Catholics we live in the world as it has been redeemed by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been given this world as gift, but we have in some ways handed it over to an entity that denies the power of the Cross. Good stewardship calls us to take it back and cultivate it. It is time for us to exercise our minds, strengthen our resolve, entrust our souls to Christ, and grow up.