Message: If you take care of God's Temple, he will take care of you.
Last week I invited you to a solidarity of prayer. This week I focus on something that flows from our union in prayer: a solidarity of material goods - financial resources or "treasure."
Today's Gospel might seem odd for a talk on money. We hear about Jesus driving the money-changers out of the Temple and can conclude we should focus exclusively on "spiritual things." But is that the real message? Jesus drives out the money changers because of "zeal" for the Temple. The Temple is a stones and mortar structure - a physical place where God meets his people. When Jesus cleanses the Temple he shows his care for that material reality.
Today we celebrate the dedication of a specific building - the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome. Our youth visited that church when we went to World Youth Day 2011. As the Cathedral of Rome, St. John Lateran has this inscription: "Ecclesiarum mater et caput" - Mother and Head of all the churches in the world. Here at St. Mary of the Valley we celebrate this Feast because we are connected with St. John Lateran - like a body organ to the head or like a son to his mother. With St. John Lateran we have a spiritual and physical solidarity.
We need solidarity with the universal church and with each other. As we saw last week, first and foremost a solidarity of prayer. From that flows material solidarity - the sharing of financial resources.
Some of our families are going through difficult times. They feel hard pressed financially. Other have been blessed. But there is a saying: No one is so poor that he has nothing to given - and no one is so rich that he has nothing to receive. We need each other.
Acknowledging that need, I ask you now to take the card titled, "From a Heart of Gratitude." It will help you reflect and re-evaluate your financial giving. I have to ask myself: Is my giving planned, proportionate, sacrificial and thankful? The chart will enable you to calculate what percentage of your household income you currently give. It goes from 2 to 5 percent. Some parishioners give ten percent - a full tithe - to the parish which is wonderful. But for most parishioners the challenge is to take a step toward giving 5% to the parish and 5% to Special Collections, the Annual Appeal and other charities. If you are ready to fill out the Stewardship of Treasure card you may put it in today's collection - or you can take the card home to pray and consult with others.
Your solidarity of financial resources will enable our parish to fulfill its mission; it will also bless you and your family. In the first reading Ezekiel describes a vision of water trickling from the Temple. He goes a thousand cubits (about 500 yards) and the water reaches his ankles. Another thousand and its knee-deep, then waist deep and finally so deep he has to swim. So it is with our Stewardship of Treasure. It may seem small, but if we give from the heart, if we love God's Temple, our solidarity will grow and become a mighty healing river.
So we have talked about solidarity of prayer and financial resources. Next week we will address a third dimension of solidarity as we hear the Parable of the Talents. Don't miss it. For today we see Jesus' zeal for the physical temple and we reflect on the material blessings God has given us. And we ask: How can I share those blessings so that we have dynamic and flourishing parish? If you care for the Lord's Temple - his Church in all its dimensions - if you care for that Temple, God will care for you.
St. Paul expresses it succinctly: "You are the temple of God." The Temple, the Church, does not exist in abstraction. You and I are the Church. If you take care of God's Temple, He will take care of you. Amen.
Solidarity Week 1:
Solidarity Week 2:
Solidarity Week 3:
Solidarity Week 4:
From Archives (Homilies for Dedication of St. John Lateran):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies (well worth listening)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
(October of 2014)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru