We wish this week a blessed Veterans Day to all who have served our nation in its Armed Forces. It’s been a hundred years since the end of the “War to End All Wars” … on that 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918; too bad that title did not prove true.
So many things for which to give thanks—the service of others, peaceful elections, and so much more. With Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaching, we Judeo-Christians know that a critical aspect of our earthly pilgrimage is generosity back to God in thanksgiving for the many, many gifts that He showers upon us.
Despite the fact that the world loudly applauds generosity, we nonetheless tend to be very wary in our self-giving for the greater good … regardless of the fact that we may spend a fortune on trips, entertainment, gambling, unnecessaries. Now, I ask: Does that seem right to you? After all … what is more necessary than our souls and the souls of others?
And what elicits God’s blessings very much is fulfilling the Christian—and even simply human—duty of charity toward the needy. For the faithful, most especially in bringing others to discipleship in Jesus and to that salvation for which we all long so deeply.
In this season of thanksgiving, our beloved LANL friends might remember that the lab’s employee charitable giving drive is in November. There are so many wonderful programs and organizations to which you can give back in thanksgiving during this time. Our own parish of IHM has certainly been greatly blessed in the generosity of its parishioners over the years through this giving program, and we hope that the lab leadership continues to provide for it. For all the churches in the area it is a boon, because it helps immensely with funding for maintenance, programs, employee salaries, etc. In fact, without it many churches and organizations might have to cut back significantly.
So this week, you labbies … remember scripture as it reminds us: “It is better to give alms than to treasure up gold. For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fullness of life…” (Tobit 12:8-9) And, as Jesus instructed the rich young man: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)
The whole mission of ALL Christian churches—the reason for their existence, and of our discipleship—is the salvation of souls. That’s tough to do w/out material support as well; that’s just the harsh reality. And besides aiding the poor and the needy with material goods, one of the greatest mercies and kindnesses churches do is supporting the evangelization of peoples to a deeper connection with their spiritual good—to lead non-believers to discover the joy of Christ and God’s love for them, and to strengthen the faith of those whose faith is struggling. There is no greater act of charity and love than that…
…for God’s gifts are not for ourselves; we are simply stewards of His blessings … spiritual “storehouses”, as it were, to help those who have less. And the people up here in L.A. especially have received blessings in great abundance … probably above the vast majority of the people on earth, in fact—in intellect, in the opportunity to exercise that intellect, in employment opportunities and in their families.
Remembering this and God’s generosity to us, we can’t help but recall Jesus’ parable: “There was a rich man who had a steward, [who] was wasting his goods. And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your stewardship…’” (Luke 16:1-2)
A “steward” is defined as “a person who has charge of the household of another.” Well, the Christian church is the household of Christ, and Jesus established His Church—US—to spread His Word—the Gospel—of salvation throughout the world. This is our duty—our privilege—in both our material and our ministerial support, down to the little chores that need to be done around ANY household. It is reported that even Mother Teresa used to clean the bathrooms of every convent that she visited so as to help her remember humility and service.
Service to God is the greatest of our life’s works by far. And serving and loving God and neighbor is why we exist; it is the very purpose for which He made us!
And, as always, we look to Jesus for example and wisdom: “…If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) … and also He, our master, our savior and our God, says of Himself: “…the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) … Himself serving us totally, completely and perfectly upon the cross.
“[Jesus] said to them, ‘…give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’” (Luke 12:33-34)