BISHOP'S APPEAL 2012
Diocese of Oakland Bishop's Appeal 2012 "Many Generations, Stewards of ONE Faith."
5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B
As we continue with the Bishop’s Appeal this Sunday, I was inspired to share this very moving story about a certain woman whose heart was changed and those hearts around her. The story goes,
“There was a woman who as a child was crippled by polio. She became angry with God and was mean, nasty, and angry with everyone around her. She became a miserable human being. By chance one day she came into contact with members of a parish who gave her lots of love. She returned to that parish every Sunday and eventually joined it because there she found so much love from lots of people there. Her frozen heart warmed up. She found the freedom to "walk the spiritual walk" even though her body remained crippled.
As time went by the parish entered into a campaign to raise funds for a big building project. At that year's family Thanksgiving Dinner the woman surprised her family by announcing that she was giving $45,000 to the parish for their building campaign. Her family was stunned. When they asked her where she was going to get all that money, she told them that throughout all her years since childhood she had been saving bit by bit in order to buy a handicap van with a lift. Now that she had the money she decided to give it to the parish. Why? Because, she declared, her parish was now more important to her than her dream van. She said: ‘I am so thankful that God healed me of my crippled heart. He gave me the freedom to walk in the way of His Son. I now need my parish more than I need that van.’"
Isn’t this story so moving? If people from our community would have a heart such as this woman, I believe, we need not worry of our parish’s future as it would be in good hands:
And so, the question you and I face this Sunday is this: Do we give God what’s left over after we've taken care everything else? Or, do we give God what we’re living for? I believe that we have much, and we can give God much as He has given us more than we ask for. We can give God our trust, our reliance upon Him, our dependence upon Him. Take our daily work, for example. Are they to accomplish our purposes or God’s purposes? They can be the same, you know. We can make our purposes God’s purposes and we can make God’s purposes our purposes. Caring for the ones you love, caring for your wife, your husband, and your children is giving your life to God. Providing for the happiness of others is giving your life to God. Working for peace, working for justice and fairness in our world, and many other efforts is, in fact, giving your life over into God’s care.
Now, GENEROSITY, what is generosity? When you give does that mean you are generous? Maybe, but generosity calls to mind more than just giving. A very famous moral principle from Aristotle says: “Virtus stat in medio” or “Virtue stands in the middle.” Everything that is done in excess is wrong (ex. Drinking). The same thing with generosity, we do not give more when we have less for that would be hypocrisy; we do not give less when we have more for that would be greed! When you put something in the collection box for example, ask yourself this question, is what you’re giving commensurate to what you’re actually earning? To repeat what I’ve asked earlier, do we give what we’re living for? The Bishop’s Appeal as it helps various ministries in our diocese, appeals not only to your pockets, but more importantly, it appeals to your heart, to give what you’re living for. Initially, its money, yes we all know that, but more than that is to acknowledge that we have been blest by God with His providence and that we recognize such gift by giving back what we’re living for.
Let’s be clear about it. God isn't interested in your money. He has all of the riches He will ever need. No, God wants more than your money. God wants YOU. He wants your daily life. He wants to be what you depend on each day. He wants to be what you live on.
Our giving to God is only giving Him back what's already His in the first place. But giving God our hearts? Ah, that's quite something else! The gift of your heart is what He's looking for. It's our gift to Him each time we're at Mass. And when we give Him our love, when we give Him our hearts and our lives, our interests and desires, what He will give back to us cannot be measured.
Last week, as we’ve kicked off Catholic School’s Week, I’ve mentioned about preaching as our primary Catholic duty. Our Second Reading as well as our Gospel reaffirm this truth as St. Paul recognizes his work as steward by preaching. In the same way, Jesus felt not to be tied up to only one town but to reach as many towns as possible. In other words, our preaching as it is our duty must NOT only remain to ourselves but MUST move us and other people to give what we’re living for. Are we ready for this?
Oh, and by the way there is a sequel to the story I told you at the start of this homily:
“Not only was her family stunned by her announcement that she was giving her $45,000 to the parish building campaign but many of her fellow parishioners went down on their knees and back to their prayers to examine their own souls. And when a group of men in that parish heard of her sacrifice and experienced her radiant joy in her newfound freedom, they banded together and bought her a lift-van. They remained anonymous ... and when she was presented with her new van there was a note on it from these parishioners that simply said: ‘Thank you for showing us how to walk with Jesus.’”
What is the moral of the story? Be generous with God. He will not be outdone in His generosity toward you. And yes, my dear parishioner we do accept a check of $45,000.00 for the Bishop’s Appeal!