As COVID-19 continues to change the way the world interacts, parishes across North America are responding creatively and finding new ways to minister.
As parishioners who are charged with exercising good stewardship of our parishes, how are we supporting the ministries of our parish communities? More succinctly, how are we responding to our parishes with our giving practices? We have a need to give, a need that is expressed through our love for Christ and his Church. Jesus sets the standard. His life is our greatest lesson about love. He identified love as the path to salvation. Love goes beyond well-wishing to action. He laid down his life for his community of disciples. Jesus saved us through giving. He gave us himself.
We’ve all experienced the joy of giving, the excitement of presenting an unsolicited gift or a particularly generous one. We enjoy witnessing the joy our gift brings. Parents experience this when they give to young children. We all experience it when we give to a friend, a neighbor, a charity, a stranger. However, the warm feeling that accompanies giving is the least important part of the experience. The truth is we need to give because we grow in Christ by giving.
The world would have us believe that we grow by getting: the more I have, the more I am. In this view, persons are defined by things. Personal possessions count more than personal qualities, like character and virtue. But a fast car or expensive clothes are a poor means of self-expression. In order to express ourselves, we need to share our uniqueness with others, to create and to give.
Giving also affords us the opportunity to grow socially. We need relationships and relationships are enriched by giving. We sometimes hold back our giving because of fear. If I volunteer my time and give my money, will I have enough left for me? Am I willing to risk sacrifice?
Giving and sacrifice strengthen relationships. We all have a need to continue giving faithfully to our parish community. Our gift continues to enrich the people who gather around the Eucharistic table, even if virtually. Our need is rooted in our commitment to the Gospel and our love for Christ, our community and our neighbor.
When we give, we obey the first commandment, we practice the greatest virtue, and we reveal ourselves as Christian stewards.