Dear Parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy,
I hope you are well and enjoying this fall season.
Our readings this weekend challenge us to consider the meaning of true generosity, to consider what it means to return to God some of what God has graciously bestowed on us in his mercy and love.
In today’s gospel, Jesus holds up the example of the poor widow who came to the Temple in Jerusalem and gave, not from her surplus, but willingly gave all she had to God. Very few of us have ever known that widow’s kind of poverty or desperation. I imagine, fewer of us have ever shown her kind of generosity, in giving without counting the cost. It’s hard to imagine that any of us would ever be so crazy as to give our last penny to God! Yet, if that is all we had, perhaps we might do something like that as a sort of ultimate expression of hope or faith that God would do something to rescue us from our poverty.
Brothers and sisters, God is not asking us to bankrupt ourselves to support his Church. God is not asking us to put everything we have in the collection boxes. As a matter of fact, the biblical practice of tithing stipulates only 10% as the suggested proportion of our earnings that we should give back to God for all the blessings we have received. The question is, how many of us are coming close to that 10% in our giving?
I think that what is even more important than the amount we are giving, is our attitude in giving. What is our attitude when we make our contributions to support our parish community? Are we giving out of a sense of obligation? Are we giving out of a belief that God is going to reward us for the sacrifice we are making?
That kind of thinking is not quite right! How much of God’s love do we get for $1 a week, $5 a week, or
$100 a week? Don’t you see the problem with that way of thinking? We should know that God’s love is graciously, freely, and generously given to us already. We cannot buy God’s love and favor. It is pure grace.
So, when we give to the Church, when we offer our gift to God for the support of the Church, what is our attitude? What do we get out of it?
Well, for one thing, and this is the most important thing, giving is a way for us to participate in the mission of the Church and to continue the work of Jesus himself.
We might ask, what happens if people don’t give to support that mission? Well, nothing! That is what happens. There’s no mystery about it, salaries do not get paid. There is no money to pay bills, to fund necessary repairs, to purchase oil or gas or pay electrical expenses.
In short, when people withhold their gifts, churches close. We see it happening around us as churches in our area are consolidated, and the properties are rented or sold to pay the bills that were left behind. And everybody says, “What a shame! It’s just too bad.” But, for some reason, they don’t make the connection. No support – no church! It’s that simple.
Our generosity to God in support of the Church, allows the Church to continue its mission of bringing the gospel of salvation to others. That is what it is all about in the end. Let’s not forget it. Let’s not suppose that our gift is somehow paying God to take care of us or that we are buying God’s love and favor. It just isn’t so! God has already done so much for us. God has gone beyond our hopes and dreams in offering us the gift of salvation through Jesus His Son.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus gives us the ultimate example of generosity. He made the ultimate offering of himself for our sake, to save us from our sins, so that we might be made a new creation in his image. Jesus was selfless in his giving.
So, I ask you to please support your church. It may be a good time to consider giving more. To let you know, the Parish Finance Council and I are talking about electronic giving. Stay tuned for that.
Finally, on behalf of our parish, “Welcome back Bishop Greg Studerus!” It was only two weeks ago since we saw you here at the Confirmation Mass for our young people. It is good to have you with us again. Thank you for presiding at the arrival of the Jubilee Cross here in our parish as part of the celebration of the five hundred years of Christianity in the Philippines.
Most Filipinos know that Christianity arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century. That was when the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, who was leading a Spanish expedition to the so-called “East Indies,” reached the Philippines on the 16th of March in 1521.
The Jubilee Cross will at OLM until December 4. The church will be open for pilgrims during office hours. Please check the bulletin for those times. For safety reasons, our church is closed when no staff members are present.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.