Sermons

Summary: Our gift to God must be totally disinterested, and focused on evangelization.

Thursday of the 3rd Week in Course 2014

Joy of the Gospel

We receive in the same measure with which we give. That is the way in which our light shines before humankind. That is the way we attract others to the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of hope, the Gospel of Life. Jesus Christ, in the plan of the Father, gave everything He had. His “return on investment,” if I may be so bold as to use a secular term, is immense. The Father has given Him the whole universe as a reward.

When we consider the measure with which we give, we tend to think only of quality. “How big is the scoop?” But that is an incomplete metric. What we need to focus on is not the volume of the giving, but the quality of the gift, and the attitude with which we give it. I’ll start with an analogy to our gift, our tithe, to the Church.

Let’s suppose someone gives a million dollars to the Church. That amount is terrific, because the need and the opportunity is great. But consider the quality issue. Suppose the gift is designated and restricted to build a football stadium for the church school? That’s not a bad thing. It enhances the attractiveness of the school, and perhaps if it’s well constructed, it provides for a safer and more enjoyable game of football or soccer. But the gift could have a whole series of unintended and less profitable consequences. It might drive up the cost of maintenance. It almost certainly would give the church an appearance of financial well-being that could drive down weekly giving. And the attitude behind such a gift could be self-serving. The donor might be more interested in putting his name on the stadium than on enhancing service to the Church and the poor. Our giving, to be most beneficial to our eternal welfare, ought to be entirely disinterested.

What I have said for gift of treasure is also true of gifts of time and talent. We must focus on our mission of sharing the love of the Father and the gift of Christ with those in need. God wants all humans to be saved, to be washed clean in the blood of the Lamb, and to draw near to Him in confidence and assurance of faith. This is the hope we have to share, the only hope that will fill the void in our lives and our hearts that all men feel.

The Holy Father warns us that consumerism, which by its nature is self-centered and ignores the needs of the poor, damages us not just on a personal level but on a societal level. ‘unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. It serves only to offer false hopes to those clamoring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.’

He continues this notion of evangelizing by confronting the culture: ‘We also evangelize when we attempt to confront the various challenges which can arise. On occasion these may take the form of veritable attacks on religious freedom or new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideologies which has come about as a reaction to any-thing which might appear totalitarian. This not only harms the Church but the fabric of society as a whole. We should recognize how in a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions.’”

It was Nietzsche who taught Europe that they could write their own values and ethics. Hitler and Stalin were not the only ones who bought that lie. Our first response must be to know the Truth and to live authentic lives in conformity with the moral law of God. Then people will notice our lives and our witness and themselves be challenged to know the Truth and live it. We must pray for our world and our Church, that we might come together as a society that is just and united, not in what we hate, but in what we love.

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