Take heart; rise, (Jesus Christ) is calling you.
In all of the healings of Jesus, including the one presented in today’s Gospel of Blind Bartimaeus, Jesus supplies what is needed. “What do you want me to do for you? Master, let me receive my sight.” is the response; so simple and straightforward. Bartimaeus wants to see, so Jesus gives him the gift of sight. It’s true with many of the other miraculous healings. The man who needed to walk is told: “Take up your palate and walk.” The woman who is hemorrhaging touches the hem of Jesus’ garment and is healed. Legion, possessed by many devils, has them exorcised and driven into the herd of swine. The healings are instant, complete, and whole and are even accomplished, in two instances from a distance. The centurion’s servant has his paralysis and distress leave him, as soon as Jesus gives the word, and the nobleman’s son who is very near death is healed from the moment Jesus says, “Go; your son will live”. Jesus is the source of all healing because all healing comes from God. It is a great gift and when we stop to think about it. All good things come from God the source, the creator. This is why we say, when we offer the gifts during the Mass, All things come of thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee.
We clearly act on the knowledge of this principle of the Christian Faith at this time of year when we enter the stewardship campaign. We are asked to take stock of all that God has given us, and in response to what He has given us, we are asked to give a portion back to Him. Remember, everything comes from Him. Whether it’s healing, forgiveness, solace in times of trouble, our families, friends, our homes, our work, our church, everything that we have begins with Him. In response to all those gifts, we have the privilege and duty of outwardly thanking Him at this time of stewardship. We commit to offering and giving a portion of what we have back to God and we outwardly state what it is when completing our pledge cards.
Practicing good stewardship is a duty of every Christian not because the Church needs to keep going. The Church is going to survive because the Holy Ghost drives and sustains the Church. The Church does not survive or collapse because of our pledge cards. Good stewardship is a duty because our souls, our lives with Jesus now, are affected by it. Your giving affects your life as a Christian.
Knowing the true meaning of stewardship as a necessary part of our Christian lives will help us see it as more than giving away some of our money. Again, the spiritual principle is that everything comes from God. We do not have anything of our own, it all belongs to God. If God created everything, and He did, then everything, even our lives, including our souls and bodies, belong to God. We are not our own. We are His.
Now if we belong to God because He made us, our first act is to accept this principle and then act on it. Our lives and everything we have are on loan from God. That means that it will be useless and silly to talk about giving anything to God unless we first realize that He first gives us everything. We are to use this time on earth as a gift and use it as God wants it used, and then give an accounting of how we have used it. That is stewardship. Taking responsibility for what has been given to us, making it better, and then giving an accounting of our stewardship.
Now we can consider Christian Stewardship. Unless we first give our lives to God through Jesus Christ there is no need to talk about stewardship, or giving of money. The only way to have this type of giving as part of our spiritual lives is to have given our life to Christ. Our lives must be His first. And that self-giving must be for all time and be continually renewed. Each Sunday we are here celebrating Mass we pray in the consecratory prayer, … and here we offer unto Thee, our selves, our souls, bodies…if you have not given yourself to the Lord and committed yourself to Him, then do not bother giving any of your money to God. Your stewardship will not work. If there is no commitment to giving yourself to Jesus Christ, then do not give any money to His Church. The Church is His Spiritual Body in space and time. To have your giving be effective in your spiritual life giving yourself to Christ will have to be first. Renew that self-giving, then decide what of your life’s worth you will commit to Him. Giving yourself back to God does not need to be complicated or tremendously emotional. A prayer like the petition from The Our Father: Thy will be done is sufficient. Or saying to the Lord, Here I am Lord, send me. Any one of those will do, it needs to be a simple handing over of your life to Jesus first.
Your spiritual life can be affected by in two ways with this kind of giving. Both affect your spiritual life because you grow in love, trust, and faith either way. You are stewarding everything about your life. He is the source of everything that you have and when you use it in the right way, you become more and more His. One way is giving by your heart and soul being moved by giving of thanks. Consider what you have from God and what Jesus Christ has done for you. Of all that, what is it worth to you? There is no way that we can ever possibly repay the price that Jesus paid on the Cross. We can through prayer, service, and giving, offer give some outward sign that represents part of our life and substance. We actually become even more thankful when we give from the heart this way.
The other way is to have your spiritual life deepened by drawing closer to the Lord through giving and seeing if your heart is not drawn to God. Jesus knew that our hearts work this way. Where your heart is, there will your treasure be also. Where your money is, that is the place of your true devotion. Make it be so. Don’t you find that if we truly want to do something, we make the time to do it and we do not let anything get in the way. That is true with our time. It is certainly true with our treasure as well. We will put our money toward what we think is important. Take the step and put your money toward Christ’s Church and see if your life with the Lord does not have more of an importance to you. Your money follows your heart, and your heart follows your money.
Now, how much should you give? The Bible tells us that only a portion, ten percent, should be given back to Him. It is all His and we only give back ten percent. I like that biblical tithe as the standard for giving. It is clear. It is small enough so everyone can do it and it is large enough so it feels sacrificial. It also is a clear sacramental act. You see it and the thankfulness is real in a way that is not vague or just words. When we give in this disciplined way, it really makes us trust God to give us everything we should have, or that He thinks we should have. You see all sorts of ways that God provides everything and even more after the giving has taken place. The prophet Malachi says, “…put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. Try it and see if it is not true.”
We do like to worry and fret about money. We plot and scheme about how to get more. We worry about whether or not there will be enough and if there’s not enough, then we wonder, “From where will it come?” The Christian antidote to this is freedom. Our Lord had the answer for us when it comes to our things. He wants to free us from the bondage of money. He knew that the love of money was and still is the root of all evil. Freedom only comes in giving and trusting in the Lord. The giving that results in freedom is sacrificial, scriptural and disciplined. Once it is done that way then we see how tremendously freeing and reassuring it is to let God provide. Doesn’t Jesus say, Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Giving frees us from relying on ourselves and puts the trust and dependence on God.
Giving thankfully; giving to bring your heart to the source and purpose of your life, Jesus Christ, is surely going to have an effect on your spiritual life. It is supposed to. It is a necessary part of the Christian life if our purpose is to draw closer and closer to Him. What a spiritual experience to have and it works. Tithing will bring you to a deeper experience into God’s operating in your life and freedom from worry about money because it is turned over to God. Welcome giving and welcome it with these words, All things come of Thee, O Lord, and of Thine own have we given Thee.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.