Give, But From the Heart

collection plateYesterday’s readings for mass concentrated on how we can become too attached to our money and possessions and how difficult it is to let go of them for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Today’s readings for mass continues this thought.

The first reading from the book of Sirach is entirely about being generous with God and one another. This reading explains the nature of giving so well that it could be used in our parish stewardship drives and other capital campaigns or new construction projects in the Catholic church. There are parishioners who leave the church though, because it seems like they were constantly being asked for money. They felt like a gift should come from the heart and not something they are constantly pressured to do. They actually leave the Catholic church rather than face the multiple requests for money every time they go to mass. There are also some of our parishioners who are reluctant to give money toward a building project or other financial endeavor that they disagree with. They had no say in the matter but felt like they were being pressured to give a substantial amount of money to something they disagreed with.

And then there are parishioners who do not give anything to the church at all because outwardly all they see are the opulence of the beautiful church buildings, cathedrals, basilicas, the Vatican and all the expensive works of art there.Even our priests vestments can add to the picture of opulence to people who do not really understand why we give glory to God with these things. They think we should sell the expensive art, build less expensive churches, maybe open the doors of our empty churches at night to the homeless to sleep in during the winter. Or maybe take care of the poor and needy in our midst instead.Our new Pope Francis might also think at least slightly, along these lines as well.

However, the gifts we give to the Lord are for His greater glory, honor and praise. The elaborate buildings, the beautiful altars and vestments and works of art are mankind’s attempt to give glory, honor and praise to God. The first reading and the psalm today as well, explain that our gifts are used to glorify God. The gifts are for the Lord and not necessarily for mankind. We serve the needs of our parish and communities through our donations, but what we give to our churches is actually given in order to show glory, honor and praise to God.

No one should be made to feel guilty by their inability to give very much money to the church though.People can also give gifts of their time, their talents, abilities and by their prayers as well. God accepts these gifts too.Cleaning the church for Easter mass, or helping pick up trash, or to serve at mass are also ways of glorifying God. In fact the psalm today says that God prefers a sacrifice of thanksgiving rather than “burnt offerings”.

The Gospel continues with the same theme as the first reading today, which is specifically addressed to Christ’s disciples but also applies to all of the clergy and religious in our church who sacrificed their entire lives to God and in service to all of us. Have you ever looked at a priest or religious sister at work among God’s people and realized they also would have made a wonderful husband, father, wife or mother? The gift of their lives should make us stop and think. The small bits of time, talent, treasure and service to the church that we do are quite small in comparison to the sacrifice of a person’s entire life. Our priests often thank us for our service to the church, but when was the last time you thanked them? If you are shy about doing that, it is pretty simple to write your thanks in a Christmas or Easter card.Actually, Father’s Day is coming up in a few weeks and there are some Catholics that send their pastors and bishops a Father’s Day card, thanking them for their love, guidance and service to all of us, the flock they care for.

Today would be a good day to think about what we could give to our parish or the Catholic community that would come from our hearts though. If you have already been giving gifts from your heart to the church and community that you live in, then thank you for caring about your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. All of our gifts and acts of service put together, gives glory, honor and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ.