November 7-8, 2015
A man walked to the top of a hill to talk to God.
The man asked, “God, what is a million years to you?”
And God said, “A minute”.
Then the man asked, “Well, what is a million dollars to you?”
And God said, “A penny”.
Then the man asked, “God, can I have a penny?”
And God said, “Sure, in a minute.”
Today I need to talk to you about finance and money. Right now our parish is faced with a major cash flow problem. In the bulletin today you will find a financial report for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. This is a summary report, anyone is welcome to see the more detailed report, just stop by the office and we will give you one. The fiscal year is July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. In summary, you will see that we ran a deficit of $42,384. last year. The fact is that our Sunday collections are way down, down $50,000. each year for the past two years, which means they are down $100,000. over the past two years, from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2015.
Our finance committee met two weeks ago and parish council met last week to discuss this issue. It was noted that we are not overspending; in fact we spent far less in 2014-2015 than we did in the previous two years. The problem is our income is down $100,000. over a two years period. We decided that I need to speak to you from the pulpit. The bottom line is: Can you increase your Sunday offering on a regular basis? We always publicize in the bulletin the previous Sunday’s collection. You may have noticed that more and more the total is in the $10,000. range. That is not enough to pay our bills. We really need to be in the $15,000. range.
The idea that sacrificial giving is part of worship has always been in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the Old Testament the Israelites always sacrificed to God the first fruits of their crop, or the best sheep of their flock. Notice their offering had to always be the first and the best, not the left-overs.
God has given us all that we have; now God expects something in return. Each time we come to Sunday Mass we off God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. What is your sacrifice?
God has been really good to all of us. First of all, we were born in the United States; we could have been born in Haiti or Uganda. We were born of loving parents; we could have been born of a single mother on drugs. We have a good education, good food to eat, friends, health. Most people in the world don’t have those things. What do you give back to God in thanksgiving?
Christian giving is an act of worship. We all have a moral obligation to worship God who gives us everything, and we all have a moral obligation to sacrificially give back.
Our scripture readings today are perfect for this homily. The first reading is the poor widow at Zarephath. Elijah asks for some water and a cake. The widow replies that she only has enough flour to prepare a cake for her and her son, then they will die, because it was the last bit of food they had. Elijah tells her to bake him a cake anyway. She did, and suddenly she had enough flour and oil to last all year. The moral of this story is repeated throughout the Bible from the beginning to the end: When you give it always comes back to you.
The Gospel story has been entitled the “widow’s mite”. The poor widow put two small coins into the temple treasury and Jesus noticed. Of all the people giving to the treasury she was the only one who gave sacrificially, her gift was a real sacrifice. And Jesus noticed. She gave from her want. And Jesus noticed. The others were giving from their surplus. This poor widow never spoke a word that we are aware of, she never even met Jesus, and now she is known around the world as “the widow’s mite”.
We always need to remember that St. Michael is a charity. The primary way we are funded is through the Sunday collections. I think we do a great job reaching out to the parishioners and larger community. We invite people to respond in faith to the message of Jesus, we call people to prayer, to community, to fellowship. We respond to people in need who call or walk in the door. We educate our children in the faith. All for free. We tithe our Sunday collections at 10% helping numerous other local charities. Then there is the soup kitchen, the giving tree, the turkey connection, the funeral dinner ministry. All for free. Then there is the hospital, nursing home and homebound ministry, the orphanage of Haiti, the parish picnic, the welcoming committee, personal counseling, community suppers, marriage preparation, funeral preparation, Christ Renews his parish, Boy scouts, girl scouts, Cancer support group. Alcoholics Anonymous. All for free. Also, parish organizations can use any of our building free.
And so I am here to ask you if you could please increase your Sunday offering on a regular basis? We simply cannot afford
a $50,000. loss in collection money every year and afford to keep going. Remember the collection is down $100,000. from where it was two years ago. Also, we simply cannot pay our bills on $10,000. a week. Also would you consider electronic giving? Call the parish office to make those arrangements.
In conclusion, The Bible, from beginning to end, calls us to sacrificial giving as a major part of worship. The Israelite worship WAS the sacrifice, the offering of the first born animals or the finest fruit to God in thanksgiving for all God has given them. God has been good to all of us, and God has been good to our parish of St. Michael. This parish is a blessing not only to us but to our whole community.
When you receive a Blessing, you need to give a blessing. Amen.
Fr. Terry Hazel