SYNOPSIS OF STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY HOMILY 2018
(TIME, TALENTS & TREASURE IN THE SERVICE OF THE LORD)
Introduction: A word of thanks to all the parishioners who are actively involved in our various parish ministries, which impact the lives of many people. Special thanks to those parishioners who sacrificially and regularly make their financial contribution to our parish by tithing. Who is a steward? He is somebody’s manager. We are all stewards of God because, as Psalm 24 reminds us, God is the sole owner of everything we have: “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness” (Ps 24:1). St. Peter reminds us of our duty of stewardship: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Peter 4:10). The New Testament refers to our stewardship to God 87 times. Paul claims that he is the steward of Christ’s Gospel. The good steward never forgets that God is the Source of all he possesses and that all his possessions are given to him in trust, so he handles them accordingly.
Time, Talents, Treasure: There are three areas of stewardship: time, talents and treasure. Accepting the Biblical model of returning 10% of the “first fruits” to the Lord, we attempt to utilize at least 10% of our time for prayer, reflection, and works of mercy and ministry. Our talents are to be used to glorify the Giver by using them wherever they are needed, in our parish or in our community. Our treasure, taken from our earnings, is offered as tithing for the maintenance of the parish Church, worship, Sunday school, youth formation, Bible study classes, outreach activities in the community and evangelization programs.
Biblical basis of stewardship by tithing: Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of references to tithing to the Lord. Tithing in the Old Testament: 1) Abraham first gave a tithe offering as a spontaneous thank you to God. “Then Abram gave the priest king Melchizedek a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20). 2) When Jacob awoke after his dream, he made a conditional pledge of himself to God, saying, “the Lord shall be my God,” and promising Him “Of everything You give me, I will faithfully return a tenth part to You”(Genesis 28:21, 22), in thanksgiving to Him for His protection, provision and safe return home from his journey. God demanded tithes from His people through His prophet Malachi: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of Heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” (Malachi 3:10) [Confer also Leviticus 27:30, Nm 18:26; Dt 14:24; 2Chr 31:5.] In the New Testament, there are a number of references to giving God a tenth of the first fruits, even of garden herbs (Mt 23:23, Lk 11:42, Heb 7:1-11). Jesus encouraged the generous sharing of our blessings with others: “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38). St. James advises that every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom (James 1:5), for how much he or she should give. St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth to contribute “what they can afford” to support the ministry of the Church (1Cor 16:1-4). He further exhorts: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:7). The early Christians offered thanks to God by helping others through the Church: “They would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need.“(Acts 2:45). So let us resolve on this Stewardship Sunday to make pledges to give faithfully, lovingly and sacrificially, our time, talents and money to our parish community and thus thank God for His abundant blessings.
STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY (SEPTEMBER, 2018)
(TIME, TALENTS & TREASURE IN THE SERVICE OF THE LORD)
Anecdotes: #1: Fr. Jennings’ reminder to parishioners “If you save money by refusing to pay to your parish, your tithing you owe to God, He knows how to discipline you, by making you to pay to rich doctors and attorneys, much more money than you saved by not tithing.” (Rev. Msgr. Joseph Jennings, an Irish priest and longtime Mobile resident credited with introducing annual tithing to the Catholic Church in the U.S.) Jennings, who died March 30, 2017 at age 97, helped to found two of Mobile’s largest parishes — St. Pius X and Our Savior — during his 71 years of service in the archdiocese. He is regarded as the priest responsible for the one-envelope system of tithing in the 1980s, which is now used by Catholics nationwide).
2) A Biblical story on tithing from the book of Genesis: “With All My Heart.” There was a young man named Jacob who started off in life with questionable character. Catching his brother Esau in a weak moment, Jacob traded a bowl of soup for Esau’s birthright. Later tricking his father, Jacob passed himself off as Esau and stole the family blessing. Is it any wonder the name Jacob means “deceiver”? Forced to leave home because Esau had threatened to kill him, Jacob set off for his Uncle Laban’s house. On the way, Jacob had a personal encounter with God one night in a dream. This visitation had such a dramatic impact upon Jacob that when he awoke he vowed to give God a tenth of all God prospered him with from that day forward. Going back to the beginning of our story, how could God use a man of Jacob’s character to accomplish his purposes on earth? Remember that God chose Jacob to father the twelve tribes of Israel and to continue the lineage through which the Messiah would eventually come. What did God see in Jacob’s heart that was worth saving despite his weaknesses? A generous heart. God saw that Jacob would honor Him with his treasures, that he would be a faithful and regular steward of God’s blessings. Stewardship Sunday reminds us that the same God will honor the generosity of our heart when we are faithful in the support of the ministries of our Church.
#3: “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness” (Ps 24:1): On one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the world stands the Royal Exchange in London’s financial district. Carved across the top of the Royal Exchange are the words, “The Earth is the Lord’s.” This is, or should be, a constant reminder to those who are caught up in that financial world that they are merely stewards. How wonderful it would be if, over the Royal Exchange of my heart and yours, we could always see those words and remember that God is the owner; we are the stewards.
#4: Steward in a ship: If you’ve taken a cruise, you know the value of a good steward, someone who tends to your comfort. The steward keeps your cabin clean, makes your bed, provides fresh linen, replaces needed supplies, and arranges your towels into animal designs. The title “steward” comes from an Old English word for someone who oversees the house or hall of another. In Christian terminology, it’s common for believers to think of themselves as stewards. We’re sailing through the solar system on the good ship Earth, and we feel so at home here we can almost think it belongs to us. But it’s not our ship; it belongs to the Owner, God. We’re placed on board to care for what belongs to Him, and that often means serving others. (Dr. David Jertemiah).
#4: The Christian bats: There is a funny story about three neighboring pastors who were discussing ways of getting rid of bats in their bell towers during a priest conference. The junior pastor said, “I tried shooting them with an air gun, but all I succeeded in doing was putting holes in the roof.” The senior pastor said, “As I am an eco-friendly pastor, I tried something very different. I trapped them and took them 25 miles outside of town and released them there. But in less than 24 hours, they were all back!” Then the senior–most, and a bit eccentric, pastor spoke up. “I got rid of every bat.” “How in the world did you accomplish that?” the others queried. “It was easy,” came the reply. “I went to the bell tower and made a loud announcement to the colony of bats: ‘I am going to baptize you and confirm you. Then I will give you a box of offering envelopes and ask you to support the Church with your time, talent and treasure.’ And I haven’t seen any those bats since!”
Introduction: A word of thanks to all the parishioners who are actively involved in the various parish ministries, which impact the lives of hundreds of people, and who sacrificially and regularly make their financial contribution. Who is a steward? He is somebody’s manager. We are all stewards of God because, as Psalm 24 reminds us, God is the sole owner of everything we have: “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness” (Ps 24:1). “Stewardship is a grateful response to God’s love. Based in Scripture, all that we are and all that we have flows from God as gift. In turn, we serve as stewards of our spiritual and material gifts, and we share these gifts in love of God and neighbor.” (http://avalonatholic.org/stewardship). St. Peter reminds us of our duty of stewardship: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Peter 4:10). The New Testament refers to our stewardship to God 87 times. Paul claims that he is the steward of Christ’s Gospel. The good steward never forgets that God is the source of all he possesses and that all his possessions are given to him in trust, so he handles them accordingly. If we would be good stewards, we must never forget that God loves us so much and trusts us so much that He has given us the responsibility of managing His estate. Many people are honestly seeking God, but their preoccupation with the things they think they own absolutely is blocking the Holy Spirit from moving within them.
Time, Talents, Treasure: There are three areas of stewardship: time, talents and treasure. Accepting the Biblical model of returning 10% of the “first fruits” to the Lord, we attempt to utilize at least 10% of our time for prayer, reflection, and works of mercy and ministry. (Here is the average American weekly schedule of 168 hours: working — 50 hours, sleeping (45), eating (15), watching TV (12); socializing (6); shopping (5); movies/reading (4); hobbies (3); sports/exercise (2); religious or stewardship activities (1) hour which is only .6% of the weekly time, while the Stewardship target is 16 hours. By the age of 50, the average American will have spent 11 years in front of a television!). Our individual talents are difficult to fit into a tithing model of returning 10% to the Lord, but in true Christian humility we recognize that the gifts that are uniquely ours are not to be “hidden under a bushel,” nor to be used solely for our own satisfaction and profit. Rather, we are to use our talents to glorify the Giver wherever these talents are needed, in our families, in our parish or in the wider community. Jesus reminds us: “Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Luke 12:34). When we commit to a life of Christian Stewardship, we commit to norms different from those of society in general. How does our society spend its treasure? (Statistics are total per year. Soft Drinks $44 Billion; Diets $29 Billion; Pets $8 Billion; Cut Flowers $3.4 Billion; Sports $35 Billion; Candy $12 Billion; Video Games $5.5 Billion; Skin Care $2.7 Billion; Religious $1.7 Billion = 1.3% of the total expense).
Biblical basis of stewardship by tithing: Both the Old and the New Testaments are full of references to tithing to the Lord. Originally, the tithe was an Old Testament concept. The practice of tithing was rooted in the Old Testament and was reinforced by the teaching of Jesus and his Apostles and the example of the early Christians. The tithe was basically a requirement of the Law by which all Israelites were to give 10% of everything they earned and grew, to the Temple.
- A) The Old Testament. 1) Gn 14:18-20: Abraham first gave a tithe offering as a spontaneous thank you to God. “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High and he blessed Abram…. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”
2) Gn 28:21, 22: Jacob falls asleep and has a vision in a dream in which God says to him: “Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go….” On awakening, Jacob makes God a conditional pledge, asking for protection, provision and safe return from his journey and promising, “the Lord shall be my God … Of everything You give me, I will faithfully return a tenth part to You”(Genesis 28: 21, 22).
3) Lv 27:30: “All tithes of the land, whether in grain from the fields or in fruit from the trees, belong to the LORD, as sacred to Him.”
4) Mal 3:10: “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My House, and try Me in this, says the LORD of hosts: Shall I not open for you the floodgates of Heaven, to pour down blessing upon you without measure?” [Cfr also Nm 18:26; Dt 14:24; 2Chr 31:5)]
- B) The New Testament
1) There are a number of references to giving God a tenth of the first fruits, even of garden herbs in the New Testament (Mt 23:23, Lk 11:42, Heb 7:1-11). But Jesus has no specific teaching on tithes, although he encouraged the generous sharing of our blessings with others: “Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Lk 6:38).
2) St. Paul exhorts the Christians in Corinth to contribute “what they can
afford” to support the ministry of the Church (1Cor 16:1-4) “On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside and save whatever one can afford.” (1Cor 16:2), This passage brings out four points: we should give individually, regularly, methodically, and proportionately, and he commends their generosity for giving beyond their means (2Cor 8-9) to share with those in need.
3) Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom (Jas 1:5), for how much he or she should give. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:7).
4) The early Christian community took Jesus literally when he told the rich young man to sell all he had and give it to the poor, as is evidenced in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:45): “they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need,” They set us a challenging benchmark.
Other theological reasons why we should be stewards in our parish:
1) Stewardship is an act of thanksgiving to God who continues to bless us with time, skills, health and wealth. By sharing these blessings with God’s other children in, as well as outside of the parish, we are returning to God what is due to Him, for He dwells in each of us. Stewardship is the model given by Jesus: He generously gave Himself in the service of others and offered his life for all of us. By our stewardship, we make a humble return of that sacrificial love.
2) By faithful stewardship in our parish, we are helping our own brothers and sisters, because by Baptism we are all made the children of the same Heavenly Father and brothers and sisters of Jesus our Lord and Savior.
3) Stewardship by sharing is the ultimate criterion for reward or punishment on the day of the Last Judgment. (Mt 25: 31 ff: The six questions by Jesus the judge on the day of the Last Judgment (Did you share food, drink, clothing, home, mercy and loving service?), concern our stewardship of His blessings to us.
4) Generosity to God and our neighbors is the source and means of additional blessing from God: Luke 6:38: “Give, and gifts will be given to you, a good measure, packed together, shaken down and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.”
5) Good stewardship is the sign of a dynamic and growing parish community radiating true Christian charity, not only within parish boundaries, but in the rest of the community as well.
6) Stewardship fulfills a basic psychological need in human beings. God has created us with external organs and senses precisely to reach out to others. They are meant to be our own extensions and God’s extensions to reach out to others. Psychologically, the need of the giver to give is greater than the need of the receiver to receive.
7) Stewardship widens our vision, broadens and softens our hearts and sanctifies our lives.
Lame excuses 1) “I have no time. I am awfully busy.” But we might remember that we can always find time for extra entertainment, socializing and so on!
2) “I am not talented. I have no special skills.” Remember that God doesn’t make junk. Each one of us is a bundle of skills, potentialities and gifts.
3) “Somebody else will do it.” No. Each of us is an integral part of this parish family, and we each must do our part, big or small. Each of us is unique.
How might we exercise stewardship?
1) By actively participating in one or more ministries in the parish (give a list of ministries which are active in the parish).
2) By using our special skills and training to fix things in the Church, parish hall, rectory and school at minimal cost.
3) By inviting friends and neighbors and by assisting shut-ins to join us at Mass in our parish Church.
4) By faithfully and sacrificially contributing our fair financial share of the costs of running the parish, as good children of a generous and loving Heavenly Father.
5) By actively participating in the liturgy by audibly reciting the prayers, singing the songs and behaving reverently in the Church.
6) By spending our time and talents in the family, and by training our children in prayer life (spending daily at least 10 minutes in prayer and Bible reading), and by teaching them Christian behavior, prayers and basics of our Faith.
JOKES ON TITHING
# 1: The sad tale of a dollar bill: The twenty-dollar bill reminisced about its travels all over the country. “I’ve had a pretty good life,” the twenty proclaimed. “Why, I’ve been to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, the finest restaurants in New York, performances on Broadway, and even a cruise to the Caribbean.” “Wow!” said the one-dollar bill. “You’ve really had an exciting life!” “So tell me,” says the twenty, “where have you been throughout your lifetime?” The one dollar bill replies, “Oh, I’ve been to the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, most of the time to the Catholic Church and…” The twenty-dollar bill interrupts, “What’s a Church?”
# 2: Tithe first: A missionary in Africa heard a knock on the door of his hut one afternoon. Answering, the missionary found a native boy holding a large fish in his hands. The boy said, “Father, you taught us what tithing is. So I have brought you my tithe.” As the missionary gratefully took the fish, he asked the boy. “If this is your tithe, where are the other nine fish?” At this, the boy beamed and said, “Oh, they’re still back in the river. I’m going back to catch them now.”
# 3: A stewardship puzzle: A boy told his father, “Dad, there are three frogs sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool. How many frogs would be left on the limb?” The dad replied, “Two.” “No,” the son replied. The dad said, “Oh, I get it! If one decides to jump, the others would too. So there are none left.” The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.” Does that sound like our last year’s resolution on “Stewardship Sunday” when we decided to offer our time and talents to God in our parish?
# 4: God’s Ownership: Many years ago, a popular preacher delivered a Sunday sermon entitled “God’s Ownership.” Later that day he was invited to the home of a wealthy parishioner. The rich man conducted the preacher over his vast estate. Looking over his broad acres and recalling the morning’s sermon, the rich man said, “Do you mean to tell me that this land does not belong to me?” To which the preacher replied, “Ask me that question one hundred years from now!”
# 5: “If I’ve said ‘no’ to them, how can I say ‘yes’ to you?” There was a congregation that was struggling to build a new church. Almost all the members had stepped forward generously with their pledges. But there was one major holdout, the town banker, and he hadn’t given a penny. So, very reluctantly, the minister decided to make a personal call on the banker to plead his case. The banker responded candidly. “I know you must think I’m a cheapskate, Reverend, but I’m really under terrible financial pressures at the moment. My son’s at an Ivy League school at a cost of $25,000 a year. My mother’s bedridden in a rest home at $60,000 a year. My daughter’s husband abandoned her and the nine kids and she needs $40,000 a year. Now you gotta understand, Reverend. If I’ve said ‘no’ to them, how can I say ‘yes’ to you?” (Fr. Dennis Clarke).
# 6: “I challenge you to do it again.” There was a millionaire businessman who was giving his testimony before a congregation. “When I started out, I could barely afford to pay the rent. I got a job – an ordinary job – and God led me to perform an extraordinary act of trust. I took my first paycheck, every penny of it, and gave it to the church. Ever since that time, God has continued to bless me, and God has made me a millionaire, starting with that simple act when I gave God everything I had.” And when he sat down, an elderly woman sitting near him leaned over and said, “I challenge you to do it again.”
# 7: “Whatever God wants, God takes!”: There is an old story of the three traveling evangelists who were talking about how they dealt with the offerings that were collected during their evangelistic meetings. The first one said, “I draw a big circle on the ground, and then I throw the money in the air. Whatever lands inside the circle belongs to God, and whatever lands outside the circle belongs to me.” “Oh, I can do better than that,” said the second evangelist. “I put a coffee can in the middle of the floor. Then I throw the money in the air. Any money that lands inside the coffee can, belongs to God, and I get to keep anything that lands outside.” Then the third evangelist grinned and said, “I’ve got you both beat. I just throw the money in the air, and whatever God wants, God takes!”
# 8: Tithe and tip: What’s the difference between giving God a tithe and giving a tip? A tip is 15% and a tithe is 10%
#9) The marooned tither: There were two men shipwrecked on an island. The minute they got onto the island one of them started screaming and yelling, “We’re going to die! We’re going to die! There’s no food! There’s no water! We’re going to die!” The second man was propped up against a palm tree in perfect calm. It drove the first man crazy. “Don’t you understand?!!” he screamed. “We’re going to die!!” The second man replied, “You don’t understand; I make $100,000 a week.” The first man dumbfounded, looked at him and asked, “What difference does that make? We’re on an island with no food and no water –we’re going to DIE!!!” The second man answered, “I make $100,000 a week, and I tithe ten percent of my wages. My pastor will find me.”
# 10: “I am building a cathedral.” Many years ago, in England, three men were pouring into a trough a mixture of water, sand, lime and other ingredients. A passer-by asked them what they were doing. The first said, “I am making mortar.” The second: “I am laying bricks.” But the third said, “I am building a cathedral.” They were doing the same thing, but each looked at it differently. And what a difference that made! We can see something similar in the way people relate to their parish, why they give. One person says, “Oh! All they do down there is ask for money.” The second person replies, “Well, you have to pay the bills.” But the third person says, “I am building the Body of Christ.” The three are doing the same thing, but what a difference in their attitudes! (Fr. Phil Bloom) L/17
ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL PRAYER
Thank you for giving me hope: hope for the growth of our Faith, hope for the promise for our future, and hope for the care for our community. You show me every day that all I am, and all I have, are gifts from You. Lord, my gifts are meant to be shared. Show me and help me to understand that others, perhaps unknown to me, depend on me for help. We ask you to bless the Annual Catholic Appeal which gathers the gifts that are offered to You in order to fulfill the needs of many. Amen (http://www.stmps.org/)
Website of the week: Resources on tithing @ stewardship: http://www.kluth.org/1quotes.htm
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle B (No. 51) by Fr. Tony: email@example.com
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.