But seek first the kingdom [of God]…

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow

will take care of itself.

(Matthew 6)

Money represents so much more than what it can buy for us.  We mistake money for power, we mistake it for self-worth, we mistake it for security. When we spend it irresponsibly it signals a misplaced belief that money solves all our problems, that we can buy our way to happiness. When we hold on to money too tightly, it signifies that we only trust in ourselves.  Our attitudes toward money often parallel our emotional landscape – is there a connection between how we share or withhold money and the way we share or withhold thoughts, words, affection, gratitude? How exactly do our attitudes toward giving relate to our faith? How do these attitudes affect our community of faith?

A sobering fact – at St. James, just 22% of the community consistently support our parish financially, meaning that they regularly use the envelopes or electronic giving. Yet, our church provides for the faith needs of all its people, as well as the poor beyond our walls, with daily and weekend masses, sacraments, opportunities for faith study, counseling, and a multitude of other services, which means that just 22% of our people provide the majority of the resources for the other 78%! This raises questions of fairness. It also points to the need for a real examination of conscience. Do we feel entitled to the services that our faith community provides? Do we have a “pay as you go” mentality, dropping a few dollars in the basket only when we attend? Or do we make a commitment to regularly support our parish, so that when needs arise – our own or those of others – the parish can meet those needs?

Jesus calls us to share our gifts, our talents, and our resources generously and sacrificially. Therefore, we’re called to re-examine our wants and our needs as well as the ways in which we use our money. When we’re consumed with our wants we lose our ability to love – and we weaken our faith. Therefore, we need to ask, “Where does this community of faith fall in terms of our priorities?” Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart lies.” Let’s engage in a serious reflection on the tension that always exists around money.  Spend a week, or better yet a month, tracking your spending. What does it tell you about your values? How much is spent on charity?  On our wants? On luxuries? On the necessities of life? What percentage is donated to support our community of faith? Do we  really believe that God will provide? That our needs will be met?  How much do we trust in God’s care for us?

Living your faith means facing these tough questions. And it requires a willingness to change. If every parish family committed to a consistent weekly donation through the envelope system, or a monthly donation through electronic or online giving, we could radically change the way our parish is run and the services we provide. As members of this parish family, we all share in the responsibility of providing for it.

Please pray about the percentage you can realistically contribute toward His work on a regular basis, and the method of giving you will commit to (envelope, online giving, or electronic funds transfer).