Standing in the Breach

In the months since the 2016 Presidential election many articles in Catholic publications seem to have a common thread of concern for reduced government funding of social service programs. One such article from the Catholic New Service contained interviews of Catholic Charities USA CEOs who spoke about their March 29 “Hill Day”. On that day, Catholic Charities leaders pressed Congress to support federally funded social services for affordable housing, food programs at schools and in rural areas, immigration and refugee protection, senior citizen needs, and more.

Their concern stemmed from a preliminary budget plan that called for $54 billion in cuts to discretionary spending, thus putting aid to the social programs in jeopardy. What if money is taken from the departments and organizations that serve people who depend on these vital programs? One CEO said of the likely increased burden on organizations like Catholic Charities caused by reduced government aid, “I don’t think you can expect charitable organizations to do it all.”

That caused me to think, why can’t the Church and charitable organizations do it all? Further, if I am, and we all together are the Church, what does it mean to be a member of the Church?

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops tell us what church membership requires. In a word, it is called stewardship which they define as:

What it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. A generous sharing of resources including money is central to its practice. Helping the Church’s mission with time, talent and money—what membership in the Church involves.

So I wonder, should government be the preferred provider of social welfare?  What if the government does cut aid to social programs? Will we—the Church stand in the breach like Moses did in protecting and providing for the Israelites (Ps 106: 23) and share our resources, including money, in support of the Church and charitable organizations to pick up the slack and provide for the poor, government support or no?

Robert McCann, CEO of Catholic Charities of Spokane urged Congress to view the budget as a values-based document. He suggested that our budget reflects what’s most important to us.

I agree. Our household budget does, in fact, reflect what is most important to us. In reviewing our budgets, would we find a priority for supporting the mission of the Church—what the Bishops tell us is required of us as stewards in grateful response to the many gifts God has given?

McCann goes on to say, “We can solve homelessness in the country, but it’s going to take an intentional effort.” The emphasis is mine. Can’t we solve any social/charitable need with intentional effort?

Amen! If our budgets are to reflect a priority of supporting the Church’s mission, we must intentionally include giving to the Church and other charities. It should not be an afterthought. Where our hearts are, so is our treasure.

In thanksgiving for all the gifts and benefits God gives; in recognition that God is the source of all we have, all we are, and all we will be; in our effort to be authentic Christians, will we step up and give in support for the least of our brothers and sisters by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, welcoming the stranger? Will we give intentionally and proportionately?

Give in support of the Church’s mission to serve the poor.

Give because It’s Not Your Money.