Every ministry I’ve ever given to sends me emails and snail mail at this time of year to encourage me to give even more. ‘Tis the season for giving. And this giving season comes on the heels of “Giving Tuesday” just a couple of weeks ago. It seems everyone has their hand out. It’s a constant barrage of give – give – give tugging on our heart strings in this season of hearth, home, and generosity.
I can’t help but sometimes feel irritated. But, when I step back and think about the needs these ministries address and compare that to my situation, that irritation wanes. I begin a mild chastisement of myself and own up to just how blessed I am.
How Blessed are You?!
What about you? Take a moment and think about how blessed you are. When I ask seminar attendees to share their blessings I hear the answers you’d expect: family, job, home, health. Yes, of course. Add to these the astounding truth of God’s unconditional love for us, His lavish mercy and forgiveness – wow! And more, the incredible fact of Jesus suffering and dying on the cross so that by our faith in Him, we can have eternal life with God in heaven – oh my goodness. It is overwhelming. This amazing truth invites a response.
How do we respond to such awesome love? Psalm 116:12 asks, “How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?” Humble gratitude – right? Praise and thanksgiving – of course. And by giving back. Giving is one of the best expressions of gratitude we can make to God for all His blessings. I’tis the season for giving and giving money is one of the strongest statements one can make of your faith and trust in God to provide. Sirach 35:4 says that the one who gives alms presents a sacrifice of praise.
Make a Return to God.
You might be saying to yourself, “Oh boy, this is just another one of those solicitations to give.” Do the church and ministries need money? Of course. That need is especially acute after these past few years of record inflation. But this isn’t about asking you to give. It is very much about us recognizing our need to give, and the importance of giving to our spiritual well being. We need philanthropy. Intuitively, we know we need to make a return to God for all the blessings He gives to us.
Think about the gifts you give to your loved ones. How do they compare to gifts given to acquaintances and business associates? Where does God rank on this list? Does your giving accurately reflect how much you love God?
In this season of Advent, we joyfully await the gift of Jesus coming into our lives. Let us give back like God gives. As disciples, we should strive to be like Him (Mt 10:25). Whenever we give, we are being like Him. When we give, we experience a unique closeness to God, our Father that only comes to us as we are generous. Like all parents, God wants to see His children being kind and generous and loving. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9: 7).
How Much and Where?
When you think of your giving budget, how much and where should you give? As to how much to give, the Bible offers a lot of guidance. Here are a few Old Testament passages for consideration: Gn 14:20, Gn 28:22, Ex 23:19, Ex 25:2-3, Dt 14:22-29, Dt 15:7-11, Dt 18:4, Pv 3:9. The New Testament has a handful of passages as well. I especially like Lk 3:10-11 and Lk 19:8. There are many many more – God has a lot to say about our giving. Please bring that to prayer and ask Him what He wants you to give.
As to where, half of your giving budget should go first to your parish. That is where you are fed. That is where you hear the word of God and encounter Jesus truly present in the Eucharist. Give another ten percent to the Annual Appeal. We are catholic, universal. We support the needs of those beyond our parish boundaries. It is who we are.
For the remaining 40% of your giving budget, give to charities whose missions align with your Ideals. I look for charities whose mission is to serve the poor doing works of mercy – feeding, clothing, helping with housing and education, welcoming strangers, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison, and helping young women who chose life. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25: 33-46 when we serve these brothers and sisters, we serve Him.
I count ministries that share the Gospel, those that evangelize, as among those that “feed”. We all hunger for Truth. Your parish and Catholic Radio do excellent work in sharing the Good News. They are deserving of consideration in your giving budget.
May we give in proportion to our blessings, and in proportion to our income. It is in doing that that we help ministries overcome their increased inflationary costs. And giving to them makes us a part of their mission. Helping them helps us make an impact and gives purpose to our lives.
Blessings to you this Advent season. It truly ’tis the season for giving. May we all open our hearts and give this Advent and always. It is in acts of love and generosity that we best prepare the way of the Lord.