I just got back from Peru on Friday. Some of you asked me about Tuesday’s earthquake; I definitely felt it though I was quite a ways north of the epicenter. As I am sure you saw in the news, the destruction was terrible—and it comes on top of an already horrible social and economic situation. We need to keep the people of Peru in our prayers and our hearts.
I appreciate your generosity in supporting the Mary Bloom Center in Peru—last week’s two bit collection of $620 will be a wonderful help. Also I want to thank you for the great Mission Sunday collection of $4043. Holy Family is a parish dedicated not only to local needs, but the universal church. I am proud to be your pastor.
We are now in the middle of our annual Sacrificial Giving program. It is not another collection, but rather a whole way of life, which includes a deeper way of looking at our Sunday giving. Sacrificial Giving makes concrete what the Gospel talks about today. Being grateful for the talents, the gifts we have received and using them for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good.
I had a beautiful experience of people using their talents when I was down in Peru. At the Mary Bloom Center they had just completed a four month course for nurses and midwife-obstetricians in Natural Family Planning. Forty took the course, but only twelve actually received their certificate as Natural Family Planning instructors. We had a two day retreat for them. During the retreat each one wrote a letter to Jesus telling him what their commitment was to prayer and to spreading the good news of Natural Family Planning. At the offertory of our closing Mass the letters were presented and each instructor was given a chance to read theirs. Some made commitments to get up 10 or 15 minutes earlier to begin each day with a conversation with the Lord. Others talked about how they wanted to share the good news of Natural Family Planning with family members and friends. What they were saying was they were going to take the talent they had received and not bury it, but invest it.
That is the challenge for each one of us. We can so often feel like the guy who received only one talent, a little ashamed, we want to hide it. I remember when I was a recently ordained priest. I was assigned to St. Alphonsus in Ballard with Fr. Jeff Sarkies, who is now pastor of Holy Rosary. Fr Sarkies had a striking appearance with his full head of hair and deep, rich voice. He was (and is) a great preacher. I felt a little reticent in comparison, but I realized if God hadn’t given me five talents or even two, he had at least given me one and I had to use it as best I could. There are people who perhaps only I could reach with God’s love, his call to conversion, new life.
Every one of you has been given a gift of time, talent, treasure. Your eternal destiny depends on how you use that gift. Do not bury it. I am constantly surprised by people who live such a miserly life, they don’t want to share with anyone, but when they die it comes out they have money socked away in the bank or real estate or some other investment. On the other hand there are those who have discovered the principle of true wealth which is simply to share.
Let me tell you about a person in Peru who lived sacrificial giving. Her name was Candelaria Mendezabal and she was like the valiant woman described in first reading. She was always at Sunday and daily Mass. She and her husband ran a small inn; she was would give free lodging to a poor person or a bag of rice to a family with no food. She died just this past July. On All Souls Day at the town cemetery there was a line of people at her tomb to remember her and pray for her.
Candelaria used her gifts, time, talent and treasure to serve God and her neighbor. This is what we are called upon to do this Sunday. Last Sunday in response to Greg McNabb’s reflection, some 210 pledge forms were returned for a total of $140,000. We hope to reach 500 pledges. Holy Family parish needs the active support of each parishioner. Fr Peterson, Greg and other members of the parish team made their commitment last Sunday. I will do the same. I ask you now to pass the Sacrificial Giving pledges down the pews and we will take time for everyone who has not done so to fill out the card and place it in the large baskets. Thank you.