Bulletin (November 13, 2005)

Today is Commitment Sunday for our Parish Stewardship Drive. This year we have placed a special emphasis on Stewardship. We have done this for two main reasons: first, Holy Family Parish needs and deserves your support. Our parish brings the life-giving Sacraments to you and many other people. We educate children and adults in the teachings of Christ. We serve the needy in one of the poorest neighborhoods of King County. We join people of diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds in the worship of the one God. We maintain a parochial school with ten grades from pre-K to 8. We care for our grounds, our beautiful church and other buildings which make up our parish facility. For all this we need your volunteer help (Time and Talent) as well as your financial support (Treasure). As Finance Council member Dominic Parmantier explained in his presentation, we need your support in order to close the gap between our income and expenses. We have already cut vital programs in our school and overall parish. What we really need is your generosity so that we can not only balance our operating budget, but have the personnel and programs necessary for our parish. I am confident you will respond.

The second reason for Stewardship is because you need to give. I know that many families in our parish are experiencing difficulties. Still, God has blessed each one of us with certain gifts and He wishes us to share those gifts. Today we hear the Parable of Talents. Jesus puts Talents into our hands and asks us to invest them courageously. If we hold back, if we try to keep them for our own use, things will go badly for us – and for those who need us. On the other hand, Jesus tells us that if we are faithful in small matters we will receive even greater responsibilities. If we invest our Talents, we will discover that our time, our energy – even our financial resources – will increase. I am not talking about becoming a workaholic or a neurotic. Jesus wants you to have joy. Good stewardship includes time for relaxation, exercise, study, an enjoyable meal and so on.

Some have not yet made the first step of Stewardship. I am asking them to do it today. For those who give nothing or make only a token contribution, I ask you to consider beginning with at least one percent. I ask each family or individual to make a commitment of at least two dollars a Sunday to support Holy Family Parish. Others have begun the journey of Stewardship. You know that it opens up exciting possibilities for you – and for others. Be bold. Jesus will bless you and your family on account of your faith. Your investment of Time, Talent and Treasure will help children and families in ways you cannot imagine. And you will hear those beautiful words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Last Sunday we heard beautiful testimonies from families in our parish about how they responded to the challenge of Stewardship – and how it blessed them. Also, I placed in the bulletin the first part of a written testimony from one of our parishioners. Here is the conclusion:

In 2004 I bought my first house, which meant that I had even less money per month, but the conviction that God wanted me to tithe kept growing stronger. Finally I made the decision that, beginning with 2005 I was going to tithe, and see what happened: if I ran out of money and couldn't pay my bills on a consistent basis, then I'd know that I had been right to give only my time and talents. But I was determined to find out: I wanted to take a step out in faith and "prove" God - to see if it really was true that He will not be outdone in generosity!

The first few months were really frightening. I'd see the bills piling up and not know how on earth I was going to pay for them with my usual income. In addition, the chronic fatigue that had been plaguing me for several years started getting worse - it was everything I could do to get out of bed in the morning, and I often felt like I was hanging onto my job by force of will alone. I started wondering Who was putting whom to the test?!

But time and again money would come from an unexpected source at the last minute. And about April I was pointed in the right direction for getting relief from the chronic fatigue, which gradually diminished and after several months largely disappeared. Then all of a sudden, as if I'd passed the test, in July my financial situation underwent a sudden transformation. Due to the rapid rate of appreciation in Seattle, I was able to refinance my house, lowering the payment significantly. At the same time, I was offered a huge raise in monthly salary, and started having people come out of the woodwork to offer me commission business, to the point where I had to start turning them away! For the first time in my life, I've begun to be financially solvent!

I don't want to make this sound like I'm preaching the "health and wealth" gospel ("God's the perfect investment; the more money you invest, the great returns He'll see that you make!"). I don't know if God will make you rich when you decide to tithe. He has a whole storehouse of blessings to offer, and money isn't His greatest one by any means. But I can assure you from experience that it's true: God will not be outdone in generosity, and He will see that you don't go hungry (see Psalm 37:25)!

I'm now mulling over tithing another aspect of my life: my time. This will be a much more difficult thing for me to give Him. 10% of 24 hours = 2.4 hours per day! I haven't yet decided to make the plunge, but I still have a few weeks before the new year begins. Perhaps it will work out better on a weekly average than on a daily basis, especially if I add the time spent in Parish activities to the more obvious Mass, Adoration, scripture reading, and Rosary. I'll have to figure out how to make this work.... But I do know this: I didn't think I had enough money to be able to tithe, and I don't feel like I have enough free time to be able to tithe that either; but if I do it, I'm sure God will bless me in some wonderful way, drawing me closer to Himself in the process. I guess it all boils down to this: How important is God in my life? Do I really want to give myself entirely to Him, or do I intend to keep holding parts of myself in reserve? Please pray for me: I'm convinced that it's the right thing to do, and that it will transform my spiritual life, but I just don't know if I have the courage to do it yet! And I'll be saying the same prayer for you.

Hoy es domingo de compromiso para nuestra campaña parroquial de Mayordomía. El Evangelio de hoy es significante. En la parábola de los Talentos, Jesús nos ayuda a romper el último obstáculo a Mayordomía. Muchos dicen, “Quisiera ser un buen mayordomo, pero el problema es que no tengo mucho para dar. No tengo habilidades especiales, ni tiempo extra; mi energía es bajo y, créame, no tengo dinero disponible.” Si eso es lo que tú dices, te oigo – y en muchas maneras, entiendo como te sientes.

No obstante, debo indicar que, en la parábola, era el hombre que recibió un solo Talento que tomó una actitud derrotista. Se sintió vencido antes de comenzar. Al final, el dueño lo llamó la atención. Jesús quiere que superemos nuestra timidez. Cuando uno piénsalo bien, no tiene sentido decir que no tenemos tiempo, energía o posibilidades económicas. Si realmente queremos algo, casi siempre encontramos la motivación y la plata. Por ejemplo, si alguien quiere tener cable de 100 canales, va a encontrar el dinero. Igualmente hay dinero para ropa nueva o para tener cabello rubio, pero a veces no hay dinero para Dios. Si tú o yo revisamos nuestras vidas encontraremos muchos lugares donde no estamos usando nuestros recursos en la mejor manera posible.

Jesús pone Talentos en nuestras manos y nos pide invertirlos con valentía. Si tratamos de retener lo que el nos da, las cosas irán mal para nosotros – y los que nos necesitan. Al otro lado, Jesús nos dice que si estamos fieles en cosas pequeñas, nos dará responsabilidades mayores. Si invertimos nuestros Talentos, descubriremos que nuestro tiempo, nuestra energía – aun nuestros recursos financieros – aumentaran. Nos estoy hablando de ser un neurótico. Jesús quiere que tengas alegría. Mayordomía buena incluye tiempo para relajarse, ejercicio, estudiar, una comida agradable, etcétera.

Algunos de Vds. no han tomado el primer paso de Mayordomía. Les pido hacerlo esta mañana. Sería magnifico si pudieras empezar el diezmo – dar diez por ciento de tu tiempo, habilidades y tesoro al Señor. Pero si no puedes comenzar con diez por ciento, ¿puedes dar un por ciento? ¿Puedes hacer un compromiso de dos dólares cada domingo para apoyar nuestra parroquia?

Otras han iniciado el viaje de Mayordomía. Vds. saben que abre lindas posibilidades para Vds. y – para otros. Ser valientes. Jesús no nos ofrece una cara o un cuerpo que parece siempre joven (al menos en esta vida). Pero nos ofrece un corazón joven. Tu inversión de Tiempo, Talento y Tesoro ayudará a niños y familias en maneras que no se puede imaginar. Y oirás esas palabras bellas, “Te felicito, siervo bueno y fiel.”