Living Generously as Stewards
Since all that we have comes from the Lord, we should be generous with the time, talent, and treasure that God has entrusted to us. In a recent series of homilies, Fr. Steve invited us all to consider the promises that God gives for those who live and give generously.
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), and the Lord’s call is always to greater generosity. In his homily on November 8 last year, Fr. Steve mentioned the importance of being intentional about our giving, that we might grow in generosity. Let’s all commit to becoming priority givers (making giving a priority), planned givers (intentionally doing so on a regular basis), and percentage givers (i.e., giving a percentage of our income rather than an arbitrary dollar amount). Matthew Kelly describes the “Generosity Challenge” in his book, Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, as follows:
So, this is my challenge to you. I call it the Generosity Challenge. Take some time over the next week or two and calculate what you gave to your church, charities, and people in need last year as a percentage of your annual income. Once you have that number, I challenge you to give one percent more of your income this year than you did last year. Furthermore, I challenge you to increase this giving percentage by one percent of your income each year until you reach a tithe of 10 percent (or until it simply is not possible or prudent for you to give any more). Goals bring out the best in us. We have goals for everything else; isn’t it time we had some generosity goals? You will be amazed how this proactive approach to giving changes you. Now rather than waiting until you are asked to give you will be looking for opportunities to give. Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, by Matthew Kelly (Beacon Publishing, p. 135.)
Becoming a Parish of Mercy
Last year, in anticipation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which just concluded on November 20, 2016, Fr. Steve, in his November 15 homily a year ago, outlined his vision for our future. He began by revisiting the preface of the "Come, Holy Spirit" prayer that the diocese prayed for 18 months during the Year of Prayer. The preface lays out the marching orders and vision for our ministry as a parish.
Let us pray that every person within the Catholic Diocese of Lansing will come to know and love our Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way, grow in maturity as a disciple of Christ, become actively engaged in the full life of the Church, and joyfully utilize his or her gifts for the building up of the Kingdom of God and the salvation of souls. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Steve laid out a bold vision for enhanced practical ministry to our parishioners and to the "least of these" in our community, and invited parishioners to support that vision, to invest in that vision, by increased giving of time, talent, and treasure. Based on last year's great response to the Generosity Challenge, Fr. Steve hired Liz O'Neill to help us more effectively form disciples and share God's love and mercy in our parish and community.
Is Christ Really Lord of our Lives?
The end of the Liturgical Year, and the Holy Season of Advent focuses us on Christ's Kingship. In light of that, it is well for us to examine the areas of our lives where He is not yet Lord. The question is worth pondering. Is Christ Lord of our home lives? Our work lives? Our intellectual lives? Our passions and appetites? Our media consumption? Of our pocketbook? Fr. Steve explores these questions in the third homily in his series on generosity and stewardship. We gain true freedom as we heed the Lord more and more. When we heed Him, we have reason to trust that we will one day hear those beautiful words at the Last Judgment, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master." Let's live so as to hear those words. Amen.