Giving Back to God
Tax Day, April 15, is only a few weeks away. This year it happens to fall on Monday of Holy Week. The reason I mention this is because I would like for us to consider money and faith. Obviously, or at least I hope that it is obvious, faith is more important on every level and in every respect than money. That being said, that does not mean that money is unimportant or has nothing to do with faith. Jesus actually talks a lot about money in the gospels. In fact, he speaks more about money than he does sex! Money is an important part of our lives. Don’t believe me? Try living without any money. Some people will be quick to toss out that “money is the root of all evil”. That however is not true and the supposed quote is not accurate. The actual quote is “The LOVE of money is the root of all evil” 1 Tim 6:10. A big difference! Money, like most everything else, can be used for good or for bad. Our task is to use our money, guided by faith, to do well and to do good.
We can be wealthy or poor or somewhere in between and use money well or misuse money. It is not how much money we have, rather it is what we do with the money we have. As Christians, as Catholics, we realize that everything we have comes from God, including money. We see the giving of our hard earned money as a means to show our thankfulness and gratitude to God for all of the good he bestowed upon us. As part of our thankfulness, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to use our money to further the mission of the Church. Just as our families rely on our prudent use of money, so too does the Church. Our parish relies on the generous financial stewardship of our parishioners to support the many ministries of our church and to keep things running. It is a simple fact that it takes money for us to fulfill our mission. Salaries and bills have to be paid. Programs and ministries require funds to run and to grow. The multitude of these good works requires many dollars. Our parish is a big operation and we are greatly blessed to serve, to praise, to form and to gather as a family of disciples. And while we have lots of important needs to support, what is more important is that we realize that to give back to God is part of our faith. We should not only give to needs, but should also have a need to give. Stewardship is part of discipleship.
Some people are naturally generous. It is in their bone marrow or DNA or they inherited good examples from their parents. For most of us though, generosity is something that we have to learn, practice and work at. We have to strive to overcome the fear of giving and the tendency to hold back or to give only a little. As we work at giving and grow in generosity, we realize the joy that comes from being generous. This is true whether we are talking money, time or talent. The more we give, the more generous we become and the more we realize others’ generosity in our own lives. An important life lesson and truth that we all need to learn is that we cannot outdo God in generosity. God calls us to be generous as part of His plan for our holiness and happiness. Jesus tells us that the measure with which we measure will be measured back to us! (Mt 7:2, Lk 6:38) Elsewhere in the Sacred Scriptures, the Lord directs that we take care of our families and our own needs and that we dedicate a tithe (a tenth) of our blessings to Him. I find it amusing that wait staff expect 15%-20% and the federal government demands up to 37% and God, who gives us everything, only asks for 10%! (And guess who doesn’t get it?) It is not by accident that during Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the events of our redemption at Holy Week and Easter, we are reminded of Jesus’ teaching on spiritual perfection and the disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Have a holy Lent.
In pace Christi,