This is indeed our home. It can be easy to come to think of this place as a school, or an auditorium, or even as a worship space and fills a function and other than that, doesn’t mean anything different. But as I said in the video this is our home: this is where we come to find peace when we’re struggling; this is where we go to make a difference as we did (earlier today/yesterday) and witness to our faith; this is where we gather to celebrate our faith in God and receive the grace he pours out on us through the sacraments of the church. This isn’t just any old building, it’s a community, it’s a family, and it is us.
And because this is our home, we have to attend to it. We have to fix what’s broken, we have to strengthen what’s weak, we have to invest in a community so it will be here for our children and grandchildren. And so this is one of the very few times that I will come to you and give the “money” talk. Because I get it: I know that everyone has demands on their finances, sometimes very significant ones. But if this is our home, then we are called to make an investment in its present and future, just as previous generations have done for us.
Our Gospel reading today calls us to give to God what belongs to God. This then becomes a reflection on the first commandment of the Decalogue: “I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods before me.” This is echoed by the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading: “I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me. I am the LORD, there is no other.”
Giving to God what belongs to God is foundational. Failure to do that leads to all other kinds of sin. Today, we have in our Scriptures an examination of conscience. Have we been zealous to give to God what belongs to God? Have we taken time for prayer? Have we been of service to our brothers and sisters in need? Have we made teaching the faith to our children our primary priority? Have we been vigilant to prevent anything from getting in the way of celebrating Mass as a family? If we have fallen short in any of those ways, this is the time to reverse the course and get it right. Caesar gets what’s his one way or the other. We have to be the ones who are on fire to give to God what belongs to God.
We’ve accomplished a lot as a parish in the last year. I hope you saw that wonderful list in the bulletin a few weeks ago when we presented the parish financial report. It was a full and engaging year, and we should take pride that we as a parish could do so much together. I am grateful for the way the parish came together to provide a beautiful sign out on Route 59, that we found a way to repair many of the sidewalks and other concrete around the facility, and to revamp our parish gym. What a blessing that we could get those things done! But, just like any home, there’s a lot to be done. We need to repair the parking lot, the floor in Cana Hall, and the windows in the Commons, to name but a few. We need to take care of those things and provide space in our budget for when stuff happens, like the air conditioning going out in the school office, or a leaking pipe in the narthex.
One of the very first things I did when I found out I was coming here was to sign up for online giving. I wanted to make sure that I was giving expression to my gratitude for all that God does in my life. And so it is in that spirit that I ask that each of you discern how you can help us to meet our increased budget needs through your offertory support. While we all have different resources to draw from and commitments to fulfill, we can each give something in support of our parish family. We are doing our best to use modern conveniences to assist parishioners in their giving. We have electronic giving options to help meet the demands presented by the fast pace of our lives.
In the past week or so, you probably received a letter from me asking for your support. After you have prayed about your response, I would ask that you fill out the enclosed letter of support and send it back to us. You can mail it to the parish office, to my attention, or you can drop it in the collection basket this week or next. Please know how very much I appreciate the support you give to our parish. It helps me accomplish the mission we have as a parish to worship, teach the faith to people of all ages and to reach out to others in acts of service and charity. Please know of my prayers for you every single day, and how much I love being your pastor. May God bless us all as we continue to Make Christ Known together!