Embrace the responsibility of almsgiving

By Linda Zahorik | For The Compass | March 23, 2017

The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.

This Sunday we will hear the familiar Gospel story of the Man Born Blind. Some of us will think of people who have to deal with physical challenges such as blindness.

We pray that God will reach out to touch them with healing grace. Most of us however, probably hear the story as a representation of our own inner darkness due to sin. We pray that Jesus will bring light to our soul.

Have you considered that this Gospel story also challenges us to embrace the Lenten tradition of almsgiving in a very practical way? Imagine coming to Mass some Sunday. You notice that no lights are on. Depending on the season, you also notice there is no heat or air conditioning and fans are not running. A sign on the restroom door reads “Out of Order” and the there is no usual scent of coffee brewing in the hospitality area. As the Mass begins, the organ is silent. You cannot hear the priest presider, cantor, nor any of the lectors because the microphone system is down. You wonder if somehow, you have landed back in the in the time prior to electricity being used.

Just before the priest begins his homily, he shouts to the assembly that he is sorry, but this month the parish was unable to pay their electrical bill. The electricity has been shut off. At the time of the offertory collection, you drop your usual $3 in the basket wondering to yourself, “We couldn’t meet our electrical bill, how could this have happened?”

It happened, because many of us sitting in the community forget that a parish does not run only on grace and prayer, it must have money to be maintained. That money has to come from our personal sacrificial giving, from our almsgiving.

While in church, take notice, candles, wine, hosts, building maintenance supplies, renovations, vestments, prayer books, songbooks, music licenses, flowers, all which come at a cost. The services you have come to rely on in your parish, the education of the youth, the spiritual services and adult formation programs cannot happen without a competent, educated parish staff. They are deserving of a just wage. They need telephones and computers, office supplies, books and supplemental materials to do a job that is befitting to you. Everything we need from our parish, everything we enjoy in our parish, comes with a price. What is required of us is the cost of our prayer, the cost of our time and talent, and the cost that flows from our personal income.

The next time the collection basket passes in front of you, think about your responsibility to bring light out of the darkness. Both the Widow’s Mite as well as the generous check, given from a sincere heart, build up the kingdom of God. Moreover, if for some reason, you feel that supporting your parish is costing you too much, consider the redemption price Jesus paid for each of us.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.

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