We are coming to the end of the liturgical year, which points to the fact that there will come a day that will be the last in human history. The fires that have burned so much of our State in these two weeks also remind us of how frail our lives and property are, and how in the end it will all burn. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” the Lord tells us in today’s Gospel, “but my words will not pass away.” We also come to the last of our stewardship commitment Sundays. Two weeks ago I asked how we are using God’s gift of time, those 168 hours He gives us each week. How many hours are we spending with him in quiet prayer? Last week it was God’s gift of talent: how much of our creative energies do we spend on serving others? And this week it’s treasure: how much of our wealth are giving to build up God’s Kingdom in readiness for His return?
The wildfires have brought communities closer, but they also show a pervasive social isolation. We all feel a sense of isolation, of homelessness, especially in urban or suburban areas. We have little in common with our own neighbors and have lost much of the local community feel that used to sustain main street America. Parishes and Catholic schools used to play a major role in building social cohesion, but many are now little more than museums. At least some of us must commit to building the community to regain that feel of “home,” but in a culture of isolation we resist commitment. I moved to San Francisco four years ago but only last month did I begin contributing to the local classical radio station which I listen to several times a day. Now that I’m a part of KDFC, the music sounds better! The radio hosts are talking to me, and I want to know them by name now. Is Star of the Sea your home station? Are you ready to make it your home by investing in it?
Investing in the Future
The world will end someday, or at least my world on the day I die. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,” we heard from the Prophet Daniel. “Some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.” Hard words. Frightening words. Real words. In the end, there is only heaven or hell for all of us. Have you invested in the future? I mean, the real future? What do you spend your time and money on now? Do you spend it only passing things like food and drink, travel and clothes, toys and devices? Money spent on temporal needs and wants is money well spent, but do we put at least a portion of our wealth toward eternal needs? Even your children’s university education, a most important investment, will pass away when they themselves pass. Will your children have the one thing necessary—faith in God—when they enter eternity?
I hope you are all putting away some money for the future. I have two investment accounts. One account accrues interest (I hope) for my last 20 years on earth. The other account accrues interest (I hope) for eternity. My first investment account transfers money every month from my bank to a mutual fund firm. My second investment account transfers money every month from my bank to this parish (and other charities). Both accounts are vital to my future, but which account, do you think, is more important?
A Need to Give
Your commitment of “treasure” to our parish is between you and God, but we have commitment forms in the pews this week to help you make it real, planned, and consistent. It’s a simple worksheet: “From a heart full of gratitude, I pledge to give $_______ weekly or monthly to my parish.” Most of us give what happens to be in our pockets on Sunday. That’s a poor way to give to God. Love is thoughtful and consistent. Love prepares the gift and plans the giving. It was a married couple that convinced me to give in this way. When I came to this parish I filled out a form that sends my gift electronically every month to our parish. Doesn’t matter if I am here or away, if I am healthy or sick, if I feel generous or stingy that month. My gift arrives at the parish through thick and thin. Only about 30 of us in this parish of 1000 registered households are giving electronically. We could do much better, but thanks be to God for the thirty!
When that married couple convinced me to begin tithing 15 years ago I was broke. In fact, I was in debt for the first time in my life, having just bought a new car. But God gave me far more money than I gave him and I was able to pay that debt back within three months. Priests have very few financial obligations, so most years I give 30% of my gross income back to God, and you know what? I have more money now than when I was giving almost nothing back! Maybe it’s the way we think about money, or how we spend it, that changes when we tithe. Or maybe God just won’t be outdone in generosity. So make your commitment to this parish, if not for any other good than your own. We don’t give to a need so much as we have a need to give. Return a portion of God’s blessings and see if He can be outdone in generosity.