32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Stewardship)
It just so happens that the organizers of the lectionary gave us this Gospel reading—the Widow’s Mite, as it’s commonly referred to—during the weeks that we are asking you all to consider your stewardship: how and what you give to the parish. But it’s not hard to see the connection. It says that she put in two small coins worth a few cents, while many people put in large sums. The point, of course, is that despite the fact that what the widow gave was less money, she gave more generously. Jesus lauds her because her spirit of giving was great, and that she clearly trusted in God to provide.
And by the way, even though this narrative specifically speaks of money, when we talk about stewardship to the parish, it’s more than just money: it’s time, talent and treasure, and all three pertain to our generosity, and our trust in God.
We believe that as the Gospel spread across the world, and eventually was planted here in Issaquah, the purpose was to continue Jesus’ work of building God’s Kingdom. And of all the ways that we continue that work, it’s only because of guidance of the Holy Spirit and your generosity. We depend entirely on what you give in your tithing, and the ways that you participate.
As we do each year, we ask you to re-commit by prayerfully weighing and determining what you can provide financially, then filling out a pledge card. This helps us to know how to budget. But also, we ask you to prayerfully consider how to get involved in the life of your parish.
There is a lot that goes on in this parish in order to do the work entrusted to us. And I’ve heard it said that in the average parish, about 15% of the people do 85% of the work. And I see it: there are a handful of people that do so much of it all, and there are a lot of people who have not been involved in anything in years, if ever. They come to Mass—and thank goodness for that—but that’s the extent of their engagement.
Why is that? I suspect they would say it’s because they’re too busy, that life is too hectic. I get it. Just as there’s a part of us that fears not having enough of our financial resources to get us through, there’s a part of us that fears not having enough time to be involved. Fear stifles our ability to trust, and therefore stifles our generosity. The widow in today’s Gospel had no fear.
I ask you to consider how to get involved, partially to better distribute the workload, but also to be more connected to your fellow parishioners, to build community. And maybe it’s fair to think of is a sort of partnership: while we have responsibilities to you, you have responsibilities to your parish family.
But get involved also for your own benefit, using your God-given skills and abilities, as one of the workers building God’s Kingdom. It’s good for your soul. In this weekend’s Pastor’s Note, I wrote about the theological meaning of sacrificial giving—what this all is about. Please take a few minutes to read it and consider it.
Recently we asked those who coordinate our various ministries to tell us if they need help. Based upon their responses we grouped the needs and listed them on three large posters in the back. Some of you undoubtedly have hearts for Outreach Ministries, others for activities that build community. Some of you like participating in Liturgical Ministries. On the counter, beneath the posters, are cards on which you can indicate your interest to at least learn more about a particular ministry. You can drop the cards in the baskets on the counter, either today or next weekend. Someone will follow up with you.
Throughout the entirety of our lives, God is patiently calling us to refine our priorities that it might open us up to Him, and to trust that He will provide what we ultimately need. Some part of us know it’s true, even if fear keeps us from fully believing in it. I love the way St. Paul said it in his second letter to the Corinthians, in which he was asking more from that community: “He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Everyone must give according to what he has decided; not sadly, not grudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver. God can multiply His favors among you so that you may always have enough of everything and even a surplus for good works” (2 Cor 9:6-8). Let us trust our sacrificial giving ultimately leads us to Him, and that whatever is given in love to the Lord and for His purposes, is never lost to us.