At our last parish council meeting, a member told a humorous story about a family coming out of Mass. The dad said to his wife, “father’s homily wasn’t very good.” The wife added, “Yeah, and the choir sang off key.” Their small son was listening to everything his parents said and he spoke up. “It seemed OK to me,” he said “especially considering it only cost us one dollar!”
That is one approach to Sunday giving. Today I want to talk about a different approach. It is called Stewardship. It begins with the question we find in our first reading: “Do we not all have one and the same father?”
If we answer, “Yes,” the implications are enormous. If God is our one Father, then he is the source of all we have and are. It also means we are brothers and sisters, that we have a responsibility for each other.
It is hard to keep that perspective today. In many ways our society is coming apart. One can easily respond by saying that I will take care of myself. Let others worry about themselves. Live and let live. Of course, I will be tolerant of others - as long as they don’t get in my way.
Well, if we all have one father, that approach will not work.
Jesus says to call no man “father.” I don’t think he means we should start calling our dads (and priests) by their first name. No, even Jesus used titles of respect and affection, including “father.” When he says to call no one father, doctor, teacher, rabbi, or mister; he wants us to recognize that ultimately fatherhood, healing, teaching and authority come from God. In relation to Him we are all brothers and sisters.
The way we express this reality is by Stewardship, that is, dedicating the first portion to God. There was a boy back in the nineteenth century who did that. He came from a modest family. In his first job he earned $1.50 a week. He brought the money home to this mother who placed it in her lap. She said, “John, I would be very happy if you tithed, give ten percent back to God.” That Sunday, young John placed fifteen cents in the collection. From that time, he gave to God ten percent of everything he earned. He went on to become the richest man in America – John David Rockefeller.
Now, you could find things about Rockefeller to criticize. Still, he knew that the first part belongs to God. I am not saying that if you tithe you will become a millionaire, but I do promise you will find peace, purpose and blessing.
For many people Stewardship is scary. They would like to do it, but don’t know how. They feel they have too many debts, too many obligations. But really there is only one way to tithe. You have to begin, perhaps small, but you have to begin. Rockefeller said that if he had not tithed his first dollar, he never would have tithed his first million dollars.
This Sunday I am not asking for 10% of you financial resources. I ask you first to consider tithing your Time and Talent. I know you are busy, but try to look at it in a fresh way. Consider that each of has the same number of hours in a week: 168. Maybe 45, 55 or even 60 go for sleep. Another 40 or more are spent on one’s job. That still leaves 70 hours. You give one hour to God at Sunday Mass. Could you not give an additional hour – say in Eucharistic Adoration, in a Religious Education program or maintenance of our parish grounds? Today’s bulletin contains a fuller list of volunteer needs. If you are already volunteering time in some area and wish to continue, write that down. Some parishioners give 5 or 10 hours – or more. They keep our parish going. I also recognize that many parishioners volunteer in community organizations. That is good. You might want to write that down as part of your offering to God.
This is important. As I mentioned – and I believe many people sense – our society is becoming unraveled. There is a temptation to pull back. I sometimes feel it myself. I remember once having that sense of discouragement come over me while at Mass. Of all places, at Mass. But then I saw the children coming forward for communion or for a blessing. You and I want to make a better society – and a better parish – for their sake.
For their sake, I will be asking you to make a commitment of Time, Talent and Treasure. We have one Father. We are brothers and sisters – with a responsibility for each other. God owns it all – we are called to share.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Improvements at Parish, Synod encourages Latin, Jay Leno on Pledge of Allegiance)