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Financial Commitment and Stewardship

As this year of 2017 has been designated by the Church as the Year of Commitment, it is appropriate that we examine all parts of our life since the commitment that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to is a total commitment and not one that is only limited to a single part of our life.  Our commitment to Jesus Christ and His Holy Church must be one that entails our entire self.  We must commit ourselves to a life of prayer and worship of Almighty God.  We must commit our time to help and serve our brothers and sisters who are in need.  And in this same way we must commit ourselves to sacrifice to help support the good work of the Church as a witness in the world today.

In this way we must speak about financial commitment and our stewardship of the things of the world to be used as tools to help accomplish the building up of the kingdom of God.  It has been somewhat of a tradition in the past not to speak extensively about the financial aspects of the Church.  In fact when I was a younger priest, I had even heard some Polish National Catholics say to me quite strongly, ‘we don’t talk about money from the pulpit.’  As I have thought about this more and more I don’t think we can exclude any one part of our daily life from the concerns of our Catholic faith.  Again, if we are called to give our commitment to Christ and His Church, then every part of our life must share in this commitment.

In fact if we think about it, throughout the pages of Scripture, Jesus spoke an awful lot about money.  He spoke about its use and misuse; He spoke about the place that it holds within our daily life and also about how we use our wealth through giving.  Within the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew alone we hear Jesus say: “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.  But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:2-4)  We see in this passage that the giving of alms should not be some kind of out of the ordinary event, but rather just a part of everything that you do.  Jesus tells us that money or wealth does not hold a special place, but rather we must use it to accomplish God’s work.

Again in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)  This last line is of particular importance because we can look at it in two separate ways, both of which are true.  First we can ask, what truly do we treasure?  In another way, what are the most important things within our lives?  In saying “there your heart will be also.”  This reminds us then that this will be the focus of our attention and our effort and even our love.  So we must be careful concerning the focus of our attention and effort and love.  Are they placed in things, or wealth, or any other thing which, in the end, will gain nothing for us?  Or are they placed in the person of Jesus Christ and His Holy Church which brings salvation and the kingdom of God?

We can also look at this saying in a slightly different way.  It also tells us that what we think is important in life, it is there that we will put our treasure to good use.  It is particularly here that we need to consider our financial commitment to Jesus Christ and His Holy Church.  In order to see things in this way, we can look at one very concrete example.  Before I came to seminary, I was a graduate student in mathematics living in Philadelphia.  As you can imagine, I didn’t make a lot of money (I was usually only teaching a few recitation sections for the undergraduate classes) and Philadelphia was an expensive city to live in.  Because of this I lived in an apartment that was not too great and spent a large number of my meals eating Ramen Noodles.  (At the time you could buy as many as 20 packets for a $1.00 when they were on sale.)  All in all we can say this was not the healthiest way to live.

But of course it’s a little different now that I’m older (and wiser, hopefully).  I have come to value my health and therefore I am willing to spend some money to support and preserve it.  I try to eat tasty and healthful food and likewise I spend money on medications and doctors, which also help to support my health.  All in all, I value and cherish it, so it’s worth spending the money.  In the same way as we get older we also desire to live in areas and conditions that are a bit nicer.  Again we value comfort and safety and therefore we are willing to use our funds to contribute and support this important aspect.

And if we are willing to do this for ourselves, how much more so when others are a part of the equation?  When we consider caring for our spouse and especially our children, do we not do all that we can to give them the best health, education, comfort and environment that we can?  Of course we do; because our love for our spouse and our children is not just an emotion that is to be felt within our hearts, but it is also the place where we apply our treasure.

But now we need to look at our religious and spiritual life as well.  Through our baptism we have become a member of the Church, a part of the great Christian family that has God as our Father and where we are all brothers and sisters of Christ.   If we are true to this reality of being a member of the great Christian family, then should we not also apply our treasure to allow our parish church to be spiritually healthy, and a place of great spiritual and religious education, and a worship and spiritual home that is comfortable and uplifting?  Of course we should; and it is for this reason that we must realize that we must return a portion of our accumulated treasure to Almighty God, for it was through His blessing that we were first able to receive it.

In this regard I encourage all to examine a pamphlet which was sent to all of the parishes of the Church entitled “Christian Stewardship in the Polish National Catholic Church.”  It speaks about ways in which we can use our treasure, as well as our talents to support the work and ministry of Jesus Christ through our Holy Church.  It encourages each of us to reflect on the support of our spiritual home in the same way that we look at our physical residence.

This pamphlet also reminds us that wealth is to be treated differently by a Christian, because we follow Jesus Christ.  If we follow the ways of the world in a fruitless search for wealth, we cannot add even one more day to the span of our life.  Again we must remember the word of our Lord concerning wealth from the sixth chapter of Matthew: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24)

So God must be first and foremost in our lives.  And one of the ways we help to accomplish this is by using our treasure, as well as our time and talent, in the support of building up His kingdom and participating in His worship with your parish church.  Again our Lord tells us in the Gospel of Matthew: “But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

My dear brothers and sisters, let us love the Lord above all else, and let us be committed to His work in the world by the building up of His kingdom within our parish church community.

 

Our Address

1006 Pittston Ave, Scranton, PA
Phone: (570) 346-9131
Website: http://www.pncc.org
Email: info@nullpncc.org