Sunday, December 23, 2018

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe - November 25, 2018

Please don’t give more money. Weren’t expecting that, were you? But I’m serious.  Please allow me to explain.

The Lord Jesus frequently spoke about money. It’s not because he needed it: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Instead, Jesus spoke about money because it’s an excellent measurement of the heart: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Thus Jesus praised the widow because she gave two pennies to the Temple treasury.  He reckoned her gift greater than everyone else’s because she sacrificed everything she had, whereas others gave seemingly larger amounts but only from their surplus. But in the early Church, Annas and Sapphira were condemned for giving only half their income, apparently holding back because of their distrust.

So giving money to Christ and his Church should be more than just a matter of paying one’s fair share of the bills.  There’s great virtue in giving money, if it is given in generosity, if it is given in love for God and neighbor.  Conversely, there’s a danger: If the giving becomes an occasion for resentment or alienation, it can mean the loss of a soul.

I want you to have the opportunity not only to give, but to give as an intentional and joyful way of participating in the mission of Christ and his Church.  Whatever you’re already giving is fine, especially if you are giving in that spirit of generosity and love.  But I’m not yet ready to ask you for more money, because I don’t yet know how the additional money will be used, and I don’t want to put your soul at risk by having you give more now only to regret it later.

So for now, please give according to your custom.  If your custom is to give a percentage of your income, that’s good, and please just hold steady.  Make good on your pledges, if you can.  If your custom is to give at flat pace or just occasionally, it may be premature to change now, unless you can do so without regret or other strings attached.

Jesus praised the “dishonest steward” of Luke 16 not for his selfish purposes, but because the steward was pragmatic about using his position and power to achieve his purpose. I want us to imitate the virtue of the steward in Jesus’ story by making sure our time, effort, and money are well-used to achieve the purposes Jesus holds out for us.

As soon as I can over the coming weeks, I will describe what I think is happening with the finances of the RocKenRo parishes, and how I think we might undertake the mission entrusted to us. Then together we can explore how to match the money with the mission.
                                                                                                                        —Fr. Dave