I began my homily last week stating our new Vision statement that the Pastoral Council and Parish Staff developed a couple of weeks ago. Our new Vision statement is: The Body of Christ Becoming Disciples. Upcoming bulletins will share more details about our Vision statement, so please stay tuned. In my homily last week, I said that stewardship, and being a good steward, is an aspect of Discipleship. Our Gospel last week, the Parable of the Rich Fool, revealed what stewardship is. Stewardship is not solely about money, as some people might think, but rather stewardship is the attitude we have about all the things that we have, including money; it is about seeing everything we have as gifts from God to be used well for His purposes and the good of His people. And so, to paraphrase the last line of last week’s Gospel, stewardship is about becoming rich in what matters to God. So, if you attended this mass last week, or a mass that I did not celebrate, I encourage you to read my homily from last week on our website.
Before you think that I am stuck in time, or just can’t get off my soapbox from last week… that’s not, well that’s not entirely true. But truly I am talking about the same topics because our Gospel today continues the same theme of Stewardship and Discipleship. We are reminded once again in our Gospel that stewardship is an important aspect of Discipleship. Listen again to the first line of the Gospel today in which Jesus says to his disciples, “Do not be afraid any longer for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach, nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart”. Remembering that stewardship is about our attitude towards what we have and what we do with what we have, you can hear the attitude of stewardship in that, can’t you? Sell your belongings, live simply, and give alms for the poor. Work for an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that will not lose its value, nor can be stolen. And if we work for and are focused on the inexhaustible treasures of heaven and we don’t let our hearts become overly preoccupied with the possessions of this earth, then our hearts will be satisfied, and we will be secured of our treasure in heaven.
Indeed, for us to go to heaven, our hearts must be focused on and desiring the things of heaven and not living for the temporary pleasures of this life. For us to attain the rewards of Heaven, we will have to be detached from the earthly comforts of this life. Selling our belongings obviously doesn’t mean we have to sell every possession to become poor and live on the streets, but it does mean to live simply, not to have more than we really need. When we are choosing to live simply and not always striving for the newer and better things of this life, then our hearts will then be free to choose that which really matters. We will be free to love God and love those God puts in our lives more fully and freely. By living simply, by recognizing and giving to the poor, then we will help to foster the attitude of stewardship that all that we have is a gift from God and is not a gift just for my own benefit but for the good of others, that God blesses us so that we can bless others.
The truth is my brothers and sisters, all of us are giving ourselves to something. We are either giving of ourselves to the pursuit of more money, and more, newer, and better gadgets and things of this world that are only temporary and will not last or lead us to happiness, or we are giving of ourselves to what really matters to God and are more concerned with striving for the treasures of heaven. We can’t be pursuing both well. So, I ask you to reflect on what you are giving more time, talent, treasure to- yourself or God and others? Ask yourself how much time do you spend giving to God each day, and are you using your time and the gifts and talents God has given you for your own well-being, or according to God’s purposes and the good of others? Perhaps God is calling you to spend more time volunteering or doing something for the good of others.
Financially, according to our records, the reality is some of you do not tithe- that is do not give any amount of money for the good of your parish and Church, and other charitable organizations. This is unfortunate, as your Church we depend on tithes to keep the lights on, air-conditioning running, and to serve the poor in our community, and help our parishioners grow in their faith. We estimate from our income and our records about 40% of you do not tithe to Corpus Christi at all., and historically of those who do give, give about 2% of their total income- not the 10% God and the Bible calls us to. We realize that managing finances is tough for families and that you are pulled in many directions, but I ask you to reflect on your spending and be honest with yourself. I imagine many have good intentions and are saving because they don’t know what their needs will be in the future. But part of stewardship is trusting that God will take care of your future as you strive to put Him first today. On the other hand, I know there are some of you who are on a fixed income and simply do not have any money to give, but who do give in other ways- if so, you are still being a good steward, and thank you. But I am talking about those who can give of themselves, or give more of themselves, who have been blessed by God with good jobs, and have many possessions, but are not blessing others with it, and thus are living more for themselves and the things of this world. Of course, giving of ourselves and the resources God has given us for the good of others helps us to be good stewards and have our hearts focused on what really matters and what lasts. Please know that I, Fr. Rey, and the parish staff strive to be good stewards of what you give us. I want to thank you who are good stewards, and those who are striving to give more of their time, talent, and treasure to what matters to God, to His purposes. In doing so you are not only becoming better stewards, but you are also growing in their discipleship. And that is my heart’s desire for each and every one of us, to become better disciples of Christ.
Some of you might be thinking to yourself- gosh there are several areas that I am living more for myself than for others. So, now let me highlight a couple other verses from the Gospel that point out why being good stewards and becoming disciples is so worthwhile. First notice the setting Jesus uses in this analogy of a vigilant servant waiting for his masters return, a wedding. When we think of a wedding, we probably think of a man and a woman who are so in love with each other that they commit to being faithful in giving of themselves for the good of their spouse. Every good marriage knows that it must be a giving relationship, from both sides, for it to work. It is the same with our call to discipleship, it is a giving relationship. God has married us once at the Incarnation, but Jesus is returning to fulfill His proposal to marry each one of us again at the end of time. God is saying that He will always love and be faithful to us, that is He will always be giving of Himself for our good, period. That is what love does- give of themselves for the good of another. Are we loving and being faithful to Him and the things He’s given us? Please, listen again to the first verse of our Gospel, “Do not be afraid any longer for the Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom”. The Father wants to give us the Kingdom. He wants to give us Heaven. He wants to give us eternal happiness and fulfillment. He wants to give us the fullness of love and joy, more than we could ever imagine. But for us to receive the fullness of Himself- for us to be married to Him- we need to give ourselves to Him and the good of others. We need to be good stewards who are living not for our own happiness and belongings; but living for Him and allowing Him to dictate every aspect of our lives, for that is what a disciple does. And the amount that we give of ourselves here and now in what matters to God, will be the amount God can give, and we can receive from Him. So, let us reflect and then let us act. Let us not be afraid to give our whole selves to becoming a better steward and disciple here and now, because if we do, the Father is wanting to give us the Kingdom.BACK TO LIST