This month’s Characteristic of a Christian Steward is Generosity. December’s Biblical Role Model is Joseph of Arimathea.
by Deacon Tim Sullivan
After Jesus was crucified, it was Joseph of Arimathea who courageously went to Pilate and, at great risk, requested the body of Jesus so that he could give Jesus a proper burial. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin but was secretly a disciple of Christ. He had not consented to the actions of the Sanhedrin in having Jesus condemned to death.
Joseph, a man of considerable wealth, had hewn a new tomb for himself. When Pilate granted his request for the body of Jesus, Joseph wrapped Jesus in fine linens, placed him in the new tomb and rolled a huge stone across the entrance to the tomb.
To fully understand the depth of Joseph of Arimathea’s generosity, we have to go beyond the terse descriptions in the Gospels and use our imaginations. In this we can be assisted by a famous painting, The Entombment of Christ, completed by Lucio Giordano, an Italian, in approximately 1654, conveniently displayed at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa.
The painting is not something to look at but is something to participate in. Joseph of Arimathea, in holding the crucified body of Jesus, expresses the mystery of the Eucharist. In choosing to receive the Body of Christ, to wrap Jesus in linens, slowly, carefully and with such great and tender love, the sorrow of Joseph is united with the suffering endured by Jesus on our behalf.
At the heart, the foundation, of the generosity of Joseph of Arimathea, is his deep, personal love for Jesus. It is that love which motivated Joseph to enter into his sorrow, to request Jesus’ body, wrap Him in linens and bury Him. And so it must be with us. Our love for Jesus, nourished by our taking in of His body in the Eucharist, must be the source of our own service to others.
Stewardship Service Challenges
Week 1: The crucifixion of Jesus quickened Joseph of Arimathea’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial by donating a tomb for him.
This week discuss with family or friends ways to be generous to those who are in need during the Advent and Christmas season and select a charity or project to support.
Week 2: The crucifixion of Jesus quickened Joseph of Arimathea’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial by donating a tomb for him.
This week as the stress of the season increases, generously praise and encourage those around you. Build others up by noticing and validating their positive behavior or achievements. Be generous with words of kindness and support.
Week 3: The crucifixion of Jesus quickened Joseph of Arimathea’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial by donating a tomb for him.
This week slow down, reflect on the reason for the season, enjoy family and friends, and reach out to those who are alone. Be generous with your time to God by spending additional time in prayer and reflection. Generously give of yourself to others.
Week 4: The crucifixion of Jesus quickened Joseph of Arimathea’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial by donating a tomb for him.
Give generously to the poor by cleaning out closets, toy boxes, attics, or garages and giving items you no longer need to those less fortunate. Continue to look for ways to be generous in the New Year by giving unexpected gifts of your time, treasure, and talents.
Stewardship Service Reflections
December 4 (Second Sunday of Advent): As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. -1 Peter 4:10
December 11 (Third Sunday of Advent): It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing. -Saint Teresa of Calcutta
December 18 (Fourth Sunday of Advent): Works of love are always works of joy. -Saint Teresa of Calcutta
December 25 (Christmas): To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. -John Paul II