“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” Matthew 6:21
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God is many things – all powerful, all loving, and all merciful. But above all, He is mind-blowingly generous. Think about it – He gave us the universe, life itself, friends, family, possessions… and His only, beloved son, the most precious gift He could give. And if we are made in His image, as the Bible and Catechism tell us, then we too are generous, generous to the core.
Have you ever experienced that incredible feeling you get after giving something to someone? It could be the smallest thing, given to a loved one, a charity or a stranger. You suddenly feel more alive and you want to give more! This is because it is in our spiritual DNA to give, we need to give, even more than others to receive.
Through our giving we draw closer to God, the world’s greatest giver, and everything else falls into place. Our giving, however small, becomes God in motion, God in action. This does not mean it is easy, nor should it be! Instead, we are meant to think about and feel our giving, not just sprinkle a few coins around.
Because giving is so important for us, there are many references to it in the Bible. The Bible challenges us to make our giving.
The Christian understanding of giving is distinctive: it is giving back to God what he has given us in the first place – which is everything!
If everything comes from God then He is the owner, we are the Stewards. Our time, talents and treasure have been entrusted to us to use in a unique way to serve and grow closer to God. Good stewardship means receiving God’s gifts gratefully, tending to them in a responsible and accountable manner, sharing them in love for others, and returning a meaningful portion to the Lord.
Therefore periodically reflecting on our blessings and renewing our commitment to our Catholic Faith is an important part of our spiritual growth and Christian discipleship.
The great news is that as a parish we are already well on our way to a culture of joyful giving. The work and ministry of this parish is thriving thanks to the generosity of heart and dedication of our parishioners.
As a parish, it is important that we regularly evaluate and take care of our income. The Finance Committee and Father Peter try to steward our parish income and expenditure as best as they can, and an important part of this is reviewing our main source of income: the ordinary offertory collections.
Because we do not receive funding from the state, the Vatican or the diocese, we are reliant on our offertory collections to cover the running costs of the parish, and to plan confidently for the future.
As you may know, many parishes across the diocese run a planned giving drive at least every three years. This is a chance for parishioners to learn about the parish finances, and to learn more about the most effective methods of offertory giving (such as Gift Aid and donating by Standing Order).
Renewing our giving
Most importantly, a planned giving drive is an invitation to all parishioners to reflect and renew their commitment of their time, talents and treasure to the parish. Having heard more today about stewardship, and the biblical message of generosity, over the coming weeks all parishioners are encouraged to prayerfully consider the following questions:
- How is God calling me to use the blessings and gifts He has entrusted to me?
- Am I using my gifts of time, talent and my financial blessings responsibly, and how can I use them to support my parish?
- Does my current contribution reflect the importance of the parish in my life?
When considering renewing your giving, you are encouraged to:
1. Give thanks: The more we give thanks, the more we realise how much we’ve been given.
2. Give regularly: It makes a huge difference if you can commit to giving on a regular basis – our giving is not a subscription for the services we attend: the work of the Church goes on whether or not we have been to our parish on a particular Sunday.
3. Give generously: Traditionally a tithe was the first fruits of your labour; the contemporary definition is to give 5 & 5. That is 5% of your income to charity and 5 hours a month of your time to your parish community.
4. Give yourself: spend some extra time praying for the mission and ministry of the church, and the work of the other causes you support. Could you get involved in giving your time in new ways? Think about which areas you find it easiest to give, and which you need to work at.