Tithing - An Attitude of Stewardship and Trust

11-11-2018HomiliesFr. Chad King

You have heard of the sermon on the mount, well this is a sermon on the Amount. I heard another priest used that and the congregation laughed, so I thought I would try it. If you do not find it funny, don’t blame me. But seriously, my brothers and sisters, we should be challenged by our readings today, let us reflect on them and upon our lives. Even though the word is not mentioned, the question I ask you to reflect on is: Do you have the attitude of stewardship?

In our Gospel, Jesus is talking to the crowd and begins by telling them to “be aware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in marketplaces, take seats of honor in synagogues and banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation”. Keep in mind that a scribe, was a literate and learned man and scholar of the law, and so were looked up to by many uneducated people. Therefore, Jesus is bringing to light that some scribes used their knowledge and authority to exalt themselves and to put others down, even widows. Contrast that by the scribe Jesus talked to just a few verses earlier which was the end of last week’s Gospel. That scribe agreed and understood that to love God and love neighbor as yourself was the 2 greatest commandments, and remember Jesus told that scribe that because of his faith he thus was not far from the Kingdom of God. Therefore, some of the scribes used their knowledge and status to serve and exalt themselves, while others were using it for the love, service, and good of others. Therefore, some scribes had an attitude of stewardship, while others did not.

An attitude of stewardship is the awareness that everything we have been given is a gift from God and is to be used for the good of others, not ourselves. Jesus calls all Christians to have an attitude of stewardship. As your pastor, I am calling you to do the same. You probably have heard of the slogan Time, Talent, and Treasure. The slogan of time, talent, and treasure is a way to help us establish the attitude of stewardship so that all the gifts God have given, indeed all that we have and are, are to be for the good and service of others. For certainly, our time is a gift from the Lord, as is our talent and our treasure, and God wants all that we are to be for Him and the good of others. Notice that it is not, time, talent, OR treasure. But ideally one should give to some degree in all three areas.

Obviously, we all have gifts and talents God has given us, and we are to use those gifts in some way for the good of others, they are not only for ourselves. Although every person has gifts they are given, every person is different, some have more time they can give, some have less. Some people have more treasure to give, some have less. But the goal is to give of what you can, to the degree that you can, in each area. For example, I knew of a woman who had a chronic disease that made her limited in what she could do- she couldn’t work, she couldn’t go anywhere, and was pretty much confined to her bed all day long. I went to visit her and hear her confession. She shared with me that her only income was a disability check from the government and some family help. She had built up many medical expenses, but she still gave a little of her little income to the Church, which came out to maybe $5.00 some months. Due to her illness she couldn’t volunteer or do anything with her hands, but she found a way to be a good steward. Her primary way of serving others was prayer for others, and she made up for the money or volunteering she couldn’t give, in prayer and intercession. She did all that she could. I imagine that most people are able to give something, even if only a little, of your time, talent, and treasure; selflessly giving in these areas helps us to establish an attitude of stewardship and seeing that all that we have and are, are ultimately given by God and so are to be used well.

Likewise, this widow in our Gospel has an attitude of stewardship. Personally, I imagine she is near the end of her life, knowing she can’t take anything with her when she dies, she is, what I call, giving her “will and testament”, so to speak. By the way, I also strongly encourage you to include giving something to your spiritual family, your parish, in your final ‘will and testament’. However, our Lord says that while other people gave larger amounts, they gave from their surplus, but she, in her poverty, only gave “2 small coins worth a few cents”. But she had an attitude of stewardship. Even though she did not have much, she knew that what she did have was a gift from God, it was not given to her just for her, but for the good of others. She knew she had received so much from God, and so she wanted to give back.

So, I ask you to reflect on your own lives. Do you have an attitude of stewardship? One way to reflect on if you have an attitude of stewardship is to look at how you are utilizing the 3 T’s (Time, Talent, and Treasure.) Let’s start with your treasure, your finances. Is your attitude that the income you have received is what you have earned, or do you view it as ultimately a gift from God, that you should give back to God and His Church, being grateful for what you have received? If you see that your money is ultimately a gift from God, then you should believe that He should have a say in how you spend it. Do you prayerfully approach God asking him how you should share your bounty? Every one of us has received so much from our Lord, especially most richly in the Holy Eucharist, but be honest with yourselves, are you a person that gives back to God and His church, or do you only taker from God?

I know this will surprise you. Of the approximately two thousand, five hundred families (2,500) registered families in Corpus Christi- 1,260 families give financially either online or by envelope. And although we have no way of knowing who or how many gives by loose cash, we estimate it to be about 200 more families. Thus, about 1,460, or 58% of registered Corpus Christi parishioners give some amount in a year. That means that about 42% of our parish family do not give any amount of money to the parish. In Scripture, God asks for a tithe- that you give to Him and the good of others a tenth off the top of what He has given you. God is asking you to give the first 10% of what He has given you. Because your parish is the primary place you receive from God, I ask the first half of that go to your parish, and the other 5% can go to whichever charities you want to give towards. 10% might not seem like a lot, but typically most families who do give, end up giving less than 2%. And that is because they don’t intentionally give off the top but tend to give what they feel is left over.

Let’s delve back into our readings. The widow in our 1st reading also had an attitude of stewardship. Elijah, the servant of God, asked for a little water and a piece of bread, but she said that she didn’t have any baked. In fact, she was about to use the last of the flour and oil to make the last meal for her and her son. But God, through Elijah tested her faith and ultimately her trust in God, he said that if she were to make and give bread to him first, and then feed her and her son, then the jar of flour or jug of oil will not run dry. This was a test of the woman’s faith. We are tested too, God calls us to give to Him first, to give the first 10% and not what might be left over, to God. To do so, takes great faith and trust in the providence of God for the present but especially for the future. I’m sure many of you save money ‘for a rainy day’ because you never know what the future might hold. But if you are saving for the future instead of giving to God first, then are you really trusting that God has your future? To give God the first 10% is a way in which you are showing you trust Him to provide for you, that He will be is your Father who will take care of you. And even though 10% might cause you to stretch, and be difficult, it’s ok to gradually work your way to the 10%. Ultimately though, the goal of tithing is not the money…. It is the trust in the Lord. It is believing that God is the one who is fully in charge of our lives, including our finances, and that He knows and wants what is for our good. Therefore, proper tithing and stewardship is an aspect of our faith and trust in God. When a family begins to properly tithe, they see the rewards in so many other areas of their lives. For God is a very generous God, especially when we trust in Him.

Finally, know that I am not asking you to do something I’m not doing. Not only am I, as your pastor, giving my time and talent for your service, but I am also tithing and giving 10% of the total income I receive. I know that it has benefited my relationship, faith, and trust in God, and I desire that for you too. Know that all of the time, talent, and treasure is appreciated, and I vow to you to be a good and trustworthy steward of what you give, and to use it for your good.