A HOMILY FOR THE TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “B” – 9/30/18 SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Today, in our Second Reading, St James gives us a pretty strong warning against riches. Money, for St. James, is an opportunity to serve God, whether we have a lot of it, or a little of it.
Today, as we come to Mass, we’ve got to talk about money, or more specifically, our tithing back to God. We need to do this today, because our Diocese, the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, is kicking off this weekend their bi-annual Fruitful Harvest campaign. Nobody want to hear a homily about money or tithing. To be honest few priests want to give a homily about money or tithing. If you are visiting us this weekend, from anywhere outside the Diocese of Lafayette, my apologies to you, we very rarely talk about money during the homily. Every two years, we have to do so.
You might also say, “Why in the world would that guys stand up there and ask us for money, in light of everything that has gone on and come to light in the last seven weeks? That Fr. Kevin must be crazy!” Well, I think that I’m still reasonably sane, but the crazy person is usually the last one to know. It’s true, this is probably not a good time to run a fundraising campaign. We have much to be concerned about as Church. I know that there are many who are angry or upset about what has happened in the Church. There may even be some who have decided not to give to our Parish or Diocese in protest. And I get it. Trust me, I understand the anger. As a priest who tries every day to do good and be holy, I am upset too. But we cannot, let our anger with a few that have done so much damage to the Church, do even more damage by killing the programs and ministries of our Parish and our Diocese, that do legitimate good! That’s why we are having the Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Penance on October 10th. The Church can’t stop everything either, just because the sins of a few. There’s too much riding on us, to just stop! Schools, hospitals, soup kitchens and food pantries, ministries to unwed mothers, outreach to the poor, and so many others! We need more light in our Church, not less. The Church must keep going, must persevere, even in difficult times. And we as Catholic Christians, must not let the bad guys be victorious, in stopping the rest of us from building the Kingdom of God. We trust. We believe. And we are going to go on and do what God expects from us.
Since our very beginning, here at St. Maria Goretti, we have relied on two sources of funding that have enabled us to carry out our mission: First Fruitful Harvest dovetail campaigns that have funded the building of our facilities and church. And Secondly, our weekly Mass contributions that have funded our everyday work, our worship, our ministries, and our outreach. Today, actually, I want to talk about both of them.
Our weekly Mass contributions are the financial life blood of our Parish. What we have done in the past, and what we do in the future, is very much tied to these weekly gifts, and where we go next, as a Parish, depends on our level of tithing in the collection each week. The very first ministry our Parish ever started, our tuition-free, tithing based, school, actually began even before we were an independent Parish. From the very beginning, our whole community has been dedicated to our Mission of providing affordable and accessible Catholic education, to any parishioners who desire it, regardless of income level. Our Parish is one of the few in our entire country that offers tuition-free Catholic education. And not only have we been successful in this commitment through our weekly Mass contributions, we’ve done it with educational excellence
with an award-winning School. It is YOUR weekly Mass contributions that support this choice in education. Even if you don’t send a child to our School, your weekly contribution is allowing some other family to send their children to our Catholic School, many of which would not be able to afford to attend. While our School is our largest ministry, your weekly contributions support so much more! Your weekly contribution supports our worship at Mass, and bringing the Sacraments to hundreds of people each week. Your gift helps bring people into the Church through the RCIA, and helps form our Faith lives through religious education, youth groups, and Christ Renews His Parish, the Holy Name Society, the Altar Rosary Society, our Marriage Ministry, or one of our many other community-building ministries. Your gift helps us to God’s Kingdom, in our homes, our Parish, and our community. Every dollar counts. We need to all do what we can in our weekly giving. We want to do more, and we need to do more. Our world needs us now more than ever. I am asking this week, that each of us seriously consider increasing our weekly gift, our weekly contribution by $10 a week, or whatever you can give. We all need to help out. Pray about this.
Our second source of income for our Parish is Fruitful Harvest. Every two years, our Bishop has a campaign to take care of the needs of our Diocese. This campaign is a blessing, believe it or not, because without it, like most Dioceses in the U.S., we would be taxed a certain amount each year, based on our income. In addition, growing parishes like St. Maria Goretti, are allowed to piggy back on to the Diocesan campaign, or what they call dovetail with, the Bishop’s campaign. This has been a God-send for us! Making the most of this opportunity, Fruitful Harvest has allowed this Parish, to build and pay for, everything that we have built. Our Fruitful Harvest Campaign two years ago, was one of the most successful that we have ever had. We finished the bell tower, have the money to pay to off the debt, and the money for the Adoration Chapel, which will be finished in the next few weeks. Dovetail Fruitful Harvest campaigns have allowed us to build and pay for everything that exists here at St. Maria Goretti. Next weekend, we start the pledging for the 2019-2020 Fruitful Harvest. This time around, we are dovetailing for a Facility Maintenance Fund, to help us keep up our aging buildings and properties. We need this fund! Just look at the last year, we have put on a new roof, made concrete walkway repairs, parking lot asphalt repairs, and sound and security upgrades. The new maintenance fund will help us to invest for the future, so that important repairs DON”T have to come out of weekly collections. I am asking each of us to make a pledge to this new campaign. This week, our Diocese is going to send you a pledge card in the mail. I already have received mine. Fill that card, and bring it back next weekend, where we will have a special collection just for the Fruitful Harvest Dovetail pledge cards. We’d like to ask each family to match their gift from 2016, which again, was an extremely successful campaign, or to please give whatever you can. We can all do something. It has never been about equal gifts, but it is about equal sacrifices. We all need to help. This church belongs to all of us. It is unfair for some to sit back and let others pay for them, when we need everybody’s help. It is also important to note that the Fruitful Harvest Campaign does take care of responsibility to the Diocese, which is substantial. We owe the Diocese $617, 843. To take that out of weekly collections would kill us. That’s why we are talking about this even now, and doing this Campaign. I assure you, we don’t want to NOT HAVE Fruitful Harvest, and with the Dovetail option, it is going to really help us.
Our Parish has always been a parish marked by great generosity. We are truly blessed. Our tithe back to God, both in the weekly collection and also in our Fruitful Harvest Campaign is our expression of our gratitude back to God. It is using our money, our riches, as God intends, St. James would say. We need to increase our weekly collections. We are not making it. And we need to do successfully once again do Fruitful Harvest.
I greatly appreciate your generosity. It has been amazing to see how generosity brings even more generosity. Your giving and your involvement allows us to invite, proclaim, and convert souls to Jesus Christ. Through our tithing challenge, our dovetail efforts, and our supporting of the 2019-2020 Fruitful Harvest, may we continue to build the Kingdom of God here in Westfield, Indiana. This is how we show our love for Christ. Anybody can say they love Jesus. Please pray about what you can do. And next weekend, make sure and bring your pledge card to Mass.
May God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!