Fr. Joe’s Homily

Stewards of Christ’s Work

Homily January 14-15, 2017

Rev. Joseph J. Garbarino

Looking at the advertisement of a buff bodybuilder in a sports store, the teenager is impressed. He says to his dad, “I want to start lifting weights. I want to look like that guy. Will you buy those weights for me?” The dad replies, “Yes, but only if you promise to really use them.”
“I will, every day! I can’t wait to start!” the son shouts. When the purchase is complete the dad says, “Well, let’s get your new weights home.” With a shocked look the son asks, “What, I have to carry them to the car?” What a human story. We often like the idea of something better than the doing of it. Whether it be exercise, or diet, or praying more or treating others kindly, we are more impressed by the idea then we are motivated to take the necessary steps to accomplish the goal.

We are Impressed
In today’s readings, we are impressed when we are called to be light, holy and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are impressed when we remember learning that we are called to be faithful Stewards of Christ’s Work. We are impressed by the ideas, but making choices to live as faithful stewards is challenging and at times, not only difficult but painful.

The Idea of Stewardship
We recognize the first step in being a good steward is to look beyond the challenge and difficulty. We seek God who empowers us. We remember in prayer that God’s gifts are always given in every situation and God’s providence is always at work. We use the prayer, “OK God, What’s the Good News?” to help us to wake up to God who is ever-present and ever-bountiful. We in gratitude connect with God in prayer and say thanks by sharing our gifts of time, talent and treasure. This weekend we are focusing on the steps necessary to share our treasure, meaning our weekly gift to our Church of St. Philip the Apostle.
Our Diocese is sponsoring an increased offertory commitment program for each parish for their weekly collections. St Philip’s is in the first wave of parishes to participate because of our good record of faithful stewardship. In the years that I have been with you, we have contributed to both parish and diocesan campaigns and many of us are still paying our pledges. My message today is specifically for our parish weekly giving only. In other words, I am talking about money that is for us and our parish needs.

Good News
Because of our ongoing giving to weekly collections, we have a lot to celebrate. We are doing Christ’s Work and being faithful Stewards of God’s gifts of time, talent and treasure. Let’s take a look at the Good News of our Parish. In the last three years we have made many physical repairs and improvements to our buildings, grounds and infrastructure. We are witnessing: growth in attendance and offertory giving, regular Spirituality Themes that bring our faith to our everyday lives. Our service ministries and social events are impressive. Pastoral care is our priority which is part of our mission to do Christ’s Work. Results from our recent pastoral care survey are now being collated and studied for the formation of an appropriate pastoral response. Our Preparatory School is flourishing and every year we have a good number of young converts in our RCIA. We can say that many people are lifting the weight of Christ’s Work and providing spiritual, social and service ministry in abundance. This is Good News indeed. We are in need of an increase in our weekly giving if we are to continue offering the service that we provide, in order to expand pastoral care and to keep our facilities in shape.

Choosing our Gift
This program asks that we take a look and prayerfully consider our weekly contribution in the collection. In my case, like in our opening story, I am impressed with the idea of lifting the weight of personal financial support but I don’t like actually doing it. The challenge of this program made me think and pray. While I continue to pay pledges to the Bishop’s Campaign and Annual Appeal I realized that I had not increased my weekly giving to our parish. I have prayerfully considered what I receive and what I give and have decided to increase my giving by 19% which is a five dollar a week increase from 25 to 30 dollars. I urge you to join online giving which steadies our income flow. Let me give you an example, Christmas and New Year fell on Sundays so we lost part of the collection worth 12,000 dollars. Those who use online giving, or are super-vigilant in envelope use, saved us from a greater loss. In addition, snow and assorted weather do not effect online giving.
I find that online giving helps me to make my choice of gift, register an automated amount and it goes to the church without further inconvenience. My gift is given without me writing a check or getting cash. I am more peaceful in knowing that my gift enables our mission automatically (to be honest — without me sweating it out each time).

How it Works
This week you will receive in the mail a brochure entitled, Stewards of Christ’s Work. Next weekend we will hear a talk by a parishioner about being faithful stewards and how our church has changed his family’s life. You will have the opportunity to fill out a commitment card during Mass so this week prayerfully consider the amount of increase in your gift.

A Prayerful Process
I would like to share the process I found helpful in deciding what amount to increase my giving. I reflected on my three years here with you: all the wonderful experiences that we have shared, our laughs and tears, sacraments together, you as companions on the journey, and the way that the Lord keeps blessing, sustaining and providing for us to accomplish Christ’s work through you and me. God uses our weekly gift to be Christ for one another. Reflect and pray on your history with St. Philip church: your past, our present, the future that depends upon us lifting the weight that is our responsibility. What a great privilege it is to share
what God has given to us as Stewards.
I ask you to think and to pray about what you give and what increase you will offer. Let God guide you so that you may be at peace with your commitment.

We are all very human. Honestly, we often like the idea of something better than the doing of it. We all like the idea of increased giving better than the doing, but with God’s grace and guidance anything is possible. I trust in God’s providence to motivate each one of us to take the necessary steps to accomplish the goal of increasing our weekly gift. Jesus said to our patron St. Philip what he says to us, “You will do the works I do and even greater works than these.” These works are being accomplished as Christ’s work here and now through what we share. Thank you for being faithful Stewards. May the Lord continue to bless you for your goodness.