By Fr. Jerry O’Donnell, Pastor
As the old expression goes: “There are only two things in life which are INEVITABLE: DEATH and TAXES.” – To which a clever wit added: “But at least death doesn’t “increase” every time Congress meets!”
Another wit commented recently that the EIFFEL TOWER is the EMPIRE STATE BUILDING after TAXES!
And finally, “Have you ever noticed that the two words “THE” and “IRS,” when COMBINED spell “THEIRS”?
And Jesus said:
“Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
If you, as a pastor, are going to talk about the STEWARDSHIP OF TREASURE, which I am, TODAY, then this morning’s Gospel is a PASTOR’S DREAM!
And that’s BECAUSE Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms, today, that we OWE something, MONETARILY, to God! — Think about it! — ALL HALLOWS CHURCH would not exist if a dedicated group of Catholics, like yourselves (maybe some of you were even part of that original group) – ALL HALLOWS CHURCH would not EXIST, today, if a group of dedicated Catholics had not donated a substantial portion of their TREASURE, 58 years ago, to buy the land and put up the building in which we are now WORSHIPPING! — And, ALL HALLOWS CHURCH would not exist TODAY, IF you and I did not believe in giving God some of OUR money. — Whether we give God 10% (the BIBLICAL TITHE), or even a fraction of that, YOU and I understand that GIVING is part of our RESPONSIBILITY to continue the work of Jesus Christ. Giving a part of our TREASURE is simply one of the three facets of living life as a GOOD STEWARD: – Giving back to God a PORTION of our TIME, our TALENTS and our TREASURE!
We owe money to our COUNTRY because we drive on its roads. And somebody has to pay for those roads! Somebody has to pay for our educational system, our military, and all the other MANY BENEFITS of a FREE and AFFLUENT LAND! — In the same way we GIVE TO GOD in order that the GOSPEL MAY BE PROCLAIMED and that FUTURE GENERATIONS may continue to hear the message of God’s LOVE and FORGIVENESS and have the SAME SPIRITUAL BENEFITS that you and I now enjoy!
I’m speaking about STEWARDSHIP OF TREASURE, today, because GOD is calling ALL OF US, (without exception), to be GENEROUS with our gift of TREASURE! — I like to think, that down deep inside we all KNOW this; WE JUST NEED TO BE “REMINDED,” FROM TIME TO TIME! — For example, this past week the “Today Show” featured: the nations, cities, and individuals who were the happiest in the world! On Tuesday, an avocado salesman from Costa Rica was featured who three years ago had only $8.50 to his name. He bought a lottery ticket and won $100,000! And, HE GAVE ALL OF IT AWAY — some to his family and some to perfect strangers who he met in church who were in need of a helping hand. When interviewed for the “Today Show,” he was singing and dancing down the street with a bag of avocados on his back, brimming over with JOY and a deep sense of PEACE and personal fulfillment! — WHY? — because he found that TRUE HAPPINESS comes from SHARING! — And the “Today Show” interviewer, reflected on the FACT that, while preparing for THIS FEATURE, she found that the HAPPIEST PEOPLE are those who know how to SHARE!
Simply put, though we often GIVE TO A NEED; we all have a NEED TO GIVE! — SO – even if our parish were to receive a financial windfall, (which I hasten to add, it hasn’t!) – An important part of MY DUTY to you, as your pastor, is to preach to you about the GOOD STEWARDSHIP OF your TREASURE! And THAT is because GOD has HARDWIRED you and me with A NEED to GIVE. It’s part of our very DNA!
My prayer, as your pastor, is that All Hallows will continue to be VIBRANT and DYNAMIC – and a FORCE FOR GOOD in our community, IN THE YEARS AHEAD. My prayer is that when I am RETIRED, as you pastor, I can leave this parish to my successor “in the black,” and FREE of the FINANCIAL WORRIES that sometimes keep me awake at night! — As your pastor, I promise to work hard towards that end; but I need your help, your involvement and your financial commitment.
As you decide what your MONETARY COMMITMENT to ALL HALLOWS will be, during the next year, please keep these THREE PRINCIPLES in mind:
FIRST – Please make your gift to ALL HALLOWS a PLANNED gift. Not haphazard, but planned! In other words, your gift should represent a conscious choice that you have made after careful consideration and prayer.
SECOND – Please make your gift PROPORTIONATE to the manner in which you have been BLESSED! — (As you well know $20.00, doesn’t go as far, today, as it did 30 years ago!)
And finally, please consider the BIBLICAL STANDARD of the “TITHE” (ten percent). Many (including myself) have found it helpful to give 5% of our annual income to the parish, – and then,1% to the Diocesan Annual Catholic Appeal, and 4% to the charities of our choice!
WHATEVER YOU DECIDE TO GIVE – give the Lord A GIFT THAT YOU ARE “PROUD” OF! Because your generosity is a very concrete way of demonstrating your thanks to God for the gift of your life, and for everything else He has done for you.
FINALLY, a story that I’ve used before, but it is just TOO APPROPRIATE to pass up telling it again:
Two men were shipwrecked on a desert island. One was a faithful churchgoer, the other wasn’t. The minute they reached the island, the non-churchgoer began to scream: “We’re going to die! There’s no food! No water! We’re going to die!”
The other man was comfortably propped up against a palm tree, which drove the other guy crazy! “Don’t you understand?” he yelled. “We’re going to die! What’s wrong with you?”
The churchgoer answered, calmly, “I make a hundred thousand dollars a month.”
“What difference does that make?” asked the non-churchgoer. “We’re marooned on a desert island; and we’re going to die!”
The churchgoer smiled, and said, “You just don’t get it, do you? I make a hundred thousand dollars a month, and I TITHE. — My PASTOR will find me!”
AND IF YOU TITHE, I’ll move heaven and earth to find you too! THAT’S A PROMISE!