Remember the Gift of Prayer

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

There is a bit of irony in this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus, looking at the coin bearing the image of Caesar tells the people, “OK then, if it has Caesar’s image, don’t grumble about returning the coin to Caesar in taxes. Just give to God what belongs to God.” Simple.

Yet as the collection basket passes each of us this weekend, we will drop in our bills that are marked by the U.S. government. The money may bear God’s name, but it belongs to “Caesar.”

In the United States alone, there are almost 18,000 local Catholic parishes. Each has buildings to maintain, supplies to purchase, staff to pay and programs to run. It is understandable that our parishes cannot function or remain open without our financial contributions. Thus we give “Caesar’s coin” to God’s purpose.

However, the first and second readings for this Sunday tell us that we have been called by name and are challenged to do the work of faith: to labor in love and endure in faith. Simply put, we must render to God what has been God’s from the very beginning.

Through baptism God called us by name and, in a very indelible way, we were marked as belonging to God. We are told that the church relies on our generous giving of time, talent and treasury. We cannot deny that both time and talent are given to us by God. This puts us in a place where, even if we cannot financially give anything to the support of our parish, God still expects us to give our time and talent.

Take some time before Mass this weekend to consider what you give to your parish in terms of time and talent. Do you serve in any liturgical roles? Do you help to decorate the church, do church laundry or help with cleaning? Do you volunteer in one of the parish programs? Do you serve on a parish committee? Are you willing to stuff bulletins or bring something to the bake sale?

Every parish, at some point during the year, has a recruitment event for members of the parish to offer their time and talent to the faith community. Do you actually look over the slip and prayerfully discern how to make a return to God for that which God has given to you?

What if you feel you have nothing to give; instead, your time is spent at work or caring for your children or aging parents. Maybe you are elderly or are ill and no longer have the physical energy to get out and do things. You still have the ability to pray. It is the most precious gift we can give. Use your prayers to thank God. Use your prayers to support the work of your parish priest and staff. Pray for the needs of your parish and the world. Through sharing our gift of prayer, each of us — until our last breath is taken — can render to God that which is God’s.

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