As Catholics, we are called to fulfill our Baptismal Commitment: to live our Faith to its fullest and to spread God’s love by our words and deeds motivated by our love of God. “Faith is a gift from God. He has bestowed that gift upon us. In our baptism, He invited us to become members of His family. He adopted us as His sons and daughters.” (Msgr. David Rosage, week 51 of “Speak Lord Your Servant is Listening). Appropriately, in this “Year of Faith”, we have based our theme of 2013’s Appeal on Faith and a few of those components of faith that relate to spreading God’s love by our words and deeds.
This appeal is about more than just money. Maybe the most important purpose may be to use it as a vehicle for us to recognize our own value as an instrument of God which allows us to unite with others to make a real difference in literally thousands of lives through the educational, pastoral and religious programs supported by this appeal. However, just as valuable, it provides an opportunity to slow down our life and evaluate just where we stand in our faith and our relationship and love of God – both of which should always be in a state of growth.
Faith is our personal encounter with God. It is easy for us to say we believe in God or that we love God, but to what level of belief or love would we find ourselves? Believing in God does not automatically mean we really, deeply love God. An old saying goes something to the effect – to know someone is to love them. This year’s theme leads us in a path to know and to love God and to serve Him.
Believing – who, what, why, and how.
Praying - talking to God, listening to Him through the Holy Spirit, and being open to accept His inspiration.
Studying - learning about God from His words and history through Scripture and other holy books. As we learn, we can feel ourselves grow in personal closeness to the Almighty and we begin to follow the path planned for each of us – growing in love for Him and trusting in His love for us – accepting this gift and surrendering our will to His.
Sharing - His love, ourselves, our talents and our resources.
Serving - giving our time and, with our resources, becoming an answer to a prayer from those in need of God’s love and help.
If we truly believe and have faith in God, then we desire to talk to Him and hear from Him as we pray – listening for a response coming through the Holy Spirit. We also use scripture to hear His words and use scripture to talk (pray) to Him. And then, there are also His words from that voiceless voice within us from between the lines of prayer or readings and in our silent solitude. Psalm (37:7 RSU) “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently.”
Studying the scriptures, we learn and grow in understanding, knowledge and love for Him as we come to know of His love for us and His generosity to us. His freely-given love fills us with joy and happiness, which is exactly what He wishes for us. Overwhelmed by our feelings, this love and generosity burst forth in sharing and giving of ourselves in service to others. The deeper that our faith and love of God is, we come to a point of total surrender to God’s will and move to the task of completing the mission for which He gave us life, for which all that we have, we have from Him, for that reason. We become “who” God wants us to be – overcoming our urge to be who we are and have been. Then we might be able to answer these questions:
Faith and love leads us to trust in God, helping us to overcome our anxiety and fear. Why is it that we will give our trust so willingly to someone else but not just as willingly to God? We place our trust in humans who are capable of making mistakes, relying on their experience, knowledge, and skills that could have serious damaging consequences. Then how can we protest when God begins to work on us. Or also, we have a scarcity mentality wanting what we don’t have – hoarding, hiding, or shielding what we do have. A Billy Graham quote states, “God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding: we are channels made for sharing.”
The more we hold onto what we have, the less we can receive. We have to let go, to share our bounty, to trust in God and receive even more blessings. (Matthew 6:32-33) “Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first His kingship over you, His way of holiness and all these things will be given you besides.” Pope John Paul II wrote, “Charity does not hesitate for it is the expression of our faith”. Expanding on this thought we could say, our work of faith is a sincere desire to love and serve one another. Mother Teresa has said, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Giving is not a calculated exercise in generosity – giving is a result of faith, love and trust in God. Jesus said, “You will know them by their deeds.” (Matthew 7:11).
What have we done lately for others, for the community, for the parish, for God? There are many ways to return to God, His gifts. This Archdiocesan Development Fund Appeal is but one way to share ourselves. Uniting our gifts with others multiplies their results and their effectiveness making a real difference in thousands of lives. Each of us is a unique individual only we can make that special contribution to God’s mission.
Bishop Gerber – 2002 ICSC Conference: After prayerful thought about the size of gift.
We know our gift is the correct amount.
When we do not find ourselves making excuses for its size;
When we know in our hearts it is sacrificial;
When we are completely honest with God and ourselves;
Go break to the needy, Sweet Charity’s Bread.
“For Giving is Living”… the Angel had said.
“But must I keep giving again and again?”
“Oh no”, said the Angel, chilling me through.
“Just give til the Master stops giving to you!”
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