You Can Do Hard Things Wk 2: Tithe
Sunday 30th Week in Ordinary Time: You Can Do Hard Things Week 2: Tithe
Believe it or not, it’s only about four weeks until Thanksgiving Day. This Sunday is October 23 and Thanksgiving Day is November 23. It is an absolutely beautiful time of year, and Thanksgiving is one of the highlights when we thank God for his gifts.
It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is the very thing we must do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. This is also how we move into higher realms of faith for ourselves, for our city, and for our nation.
Thanksgiving has great power to bring joy and break the power of the enemy. Whenever you give thanks to God, despite the most difficult circumstances, Satan loses a big battle in your life. When you give thanks in the midst of difficulty, you bring pleasure to God’s heart. He is looking for Christians who live in a realm of praise and thanksgiving where the enemy no longer has an ability to hold or manipulate that person. Satan is defeated when we have a thankful heart because thankfulness during difficulty is a sacrifice pleasing to God.
Are you thankful? Are you thankful for your present circumstances? Are you thankful for your salvation, your friendships, and your job? Thankfulness is a key to your life. It is the key that turns your situation around because it changes you, your outlook, and your attitude. There is power in a thankful heart. Thanksgiving brings contentment: Begin to thank God for all the blessings he has given you instead of dwelling on the negative. Discontent dries up the soul.
There is a key which will help you to be thankful. Today’s first reading and Gospel speak to us about humility. To be thankful at all times requires humility. Because only through a humble heart do we recognize and acknowledge that everything you or I have is a gift from God.
One of the ways we demonstrate thankfulness is by giving gifts, and one of the primary ways you show thankfulness to God is through your financial gifts.
This is the second week of our homily series called You Can Do Hard Things. Today we are talking about giving thanks through Tithing. You can do hard things, and the hard part about financially giving to the church is not always giving the money, it’s being humble enough to give until it hurts just a bit. That’s what we call a sacrificial gift. It’s a sacrifice because we give up something else in order to give back to God. God gives us the best he has to give, his only Son Jesus, and he asks us in return to give the best we have to give. That is a holy exchange of gifts. And that is how you move into a higher realm of faith yourself, by humbly entering into this holy exchange of gifts.
The holy exchange of gifts in which you participate is acted out during the offertory at every Mass. You bring forth to the altar your gift of bread, wine, and money. This procession with the gifts expresses also our eager willingness to enter into the “holy exchange” with God. We are saying to God: “accept the offerings you have given us, that we in turn may receive the gift of yourself.”
Life with the Lord involves an ongoing, reciprocal exchange of gifts. God began this holy exchange because he gives life to all things and with human cultivation brings forth from the earth the grain for the altar bread and the grapes for the altar wine.
In this holy exchange of gifts we demonstrate our thanksgiving to God. The bread and the wine are changed into the body and blood of Christ which we also call the Eucharist. Eucharist is a Greek word that means thanksgiving.
When the gifts of bread and wine and your financial contributions are brought forward, the bread and wine are prepared and placed on the altar. The financial contributions offered are our human collaboration with the divine gifts of God. Whether you give online and put a card in the collection basket, or place a check or cash in the basket, it is your holy gift to the Lord which, if you are offering it humbly and to the best of your ability, will transform you. That is a holy exchange. You give financially to God to the best of your ability, and he transforms you. I give regularly online, and I know many of you do too. However you give, I am grateful, and so is God for your holy exchange.
We do want to be humble, and not like the Pharisee in the Gospel who acts like he expects God to thank him! When we give we should give generously and expect nothing in return. I guarantee you, if you do that, your faith will grow, especially if you give sacrificially.
It is healthy to give, no matter the circumstances, but It is also healthy for those of us who work for the church to be transparent, and let you know how we are using your tithing.
I have some great news. We have paid off our Parish Life Center, so our Church is currently debt free! Thank you for helping us achieve that milestone.
We no longer need to dedicate funds every month to pay a mortgage, so we redirected funds into various ministries in our parish. You will get something from me in the mail this week, pointing out how you have helped others grow closer to God by helping us to grow our ministries. So many of our children, youth, and adults are growing closer to the Lord because of your assistance. Our vision is to be a place where it becomes impossible not to share Jesus with the world. Your financial gifts play an essential role in making that a reality as we share the Lord through our ministries.
Some highlights are: We
- Provided in person ministries for children, youth, and adults.
- Provided support and resources to parents to build the domestic church.
- Provided Summer VBS, Camp, and Youth Conference for children and youth to attend.
- Launched two small group series for our parish community to engage with others and share the faith.
- Sustained, supported and grew our 5pm Sunday Mass
We also would like to have the finances to support and strengthen families. We want to be sure we challenge and inspire our families to make church in the home the norm, where God is honored, faith is shared, taught, and lived, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and Sunday Mass attendance is an eagerly anticipated experience. This is called the domestic church.
Lastly we want to continue to expand our ability to spiritually form and educate our Catholic youth. Saint Mary Catholic School is bursting at the seams. We have a waiting list to get in. Our parish children’s religious formation and education processes are thriving as well. Our Sacramental preparation processes involve both the child and parents and is growing.
God is doing wonderful things through your financial generosity to his church at Saint Mary. In the mail you will also receive a card asking you to take the next step in your financial giving. I ask you to make a commitment and put it down on paper. It’s not a legal document. It is something by which you can hold yourself accountable by setting a goal for your giving on paper. That exercise is both an act of faith and a measure of our faith which we make in humility. Once you review your next step card and make your commitment, please bring it to Mass and drop it in the offertory basket.
Out of a sense of Thanksgiving, generosity, and a genuine desire to help your parish, please talk to God, and see how he calls you to give over this next year. Making a commitment with your financial gift can be hard, but you can do hard things. Your sharing, with the church, of what God has shared with you financially, is between you and God. It is a beautiful act of faith which will help you to grow exponentially in your faith.