Some people don’t want to hear about money at Mass. That’s okay. I don’t want to talk about money at Mass. Then why did I talk about money in my homily this past weekend?
I certainly didn’t do it because I wanted to talk about money. It was just the previous Sunday that we heard Jesus say, “You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Luke 16:13). What I said this weekend, was not about money. It involved money but it was not about money.
I say it isn’t about money yet in my homily I talked about our annual diocesan Catholic Ministries Appeal (CMA), the source of funds for over half our diocesan budget and I talked about our parish deficit and our need for more giving. How is that not talking about money?
It was not my objective to simply get more money. That would not be good. As Paul writes to Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10). Yes, I asked people to prayerfully consider what they can give. Why? Because the money raised funds ministries in our parish and our diocese.
It’s not about the money. Money is merely a tool for the exchange of goods. For example, the electric company provides us with electricity. In turn we pay them for the electricity. The electricity is used so that we can have the lights on in church, to power the sound system that those who speak and/or sing at Mass can be heard as we share God’s Word.
We should not become attached to our money or focused on the money itself. Yet, we need it. This is nothing new. Paul, the same Paul I cited above regarding the love of money, in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 writes about a collection for Jerusalem. Today people don’t want to hear about money. Contrast this to how Paul speaks of those who begged him insistently to contribute to the collection.
Why were they so eager to contribute to the collection? Because they understood it was not about the money itself. It was “for the favor of taking part in the service to the holy ones” (2 Corinthians 8:4). It was to provide for others in need. We are disciples of Jesus. We are called to be good stewards of what God has given us. In doing so, we show our love for God and for our neighbor.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6, Paul writes, “Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I suppose someone might mistakenly take this verse to mean that the more we give, the more we get for ourselves. This notion is sometimes referred to as the “prosperity gospel.” Ministers use this to motivate people to give. They say in your giving you should trust in God and He will reward you for your generosity by giving you more.
Certainly, God loves a cheerful giver (see 2 Corinthians 9:7) but God does not want to us to give just to get more for ourselves. Rather, I think as disciples we should think of it in this way. If we give little, only a little is accomplished. If we give more, more ministry can be accomplished. This is what Paul points to when he says we will “reap bountifully.”
Now, one cannot give more than one has. When I speak about money, I always try to acknowledge one can’t give more than one has. What I ask is that everyone prayerfully consider what we are able to give. I say prayerfully because giving does involve trusting God when money is tight. God knows how He will provide for you. Trust in him. Then, give what you are able to and to give where God calls you to give.
Remember, it is not about money. It is about ministry. Money is merely a tool.