Annual Catholic Appeal 2019
There is a story about this little poor homeless boy. It was his tradition that every day as he passes by the street where the Catholic Church is located, he would go in and drop a couple of pennies before the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for thanksgiving. As a homeless little boy, the Sacred Heart of Jesus brought so much comfort to his life. As his usual custom, he went in to the church one afternoon to drop in few pennies. But unfortunately he could not find any money. There was absolutely nothing in his pocket. He was very sad about it. In tears he gave a kiss to the feet of Jesus and said to Him; ‘Lord Jesus I am very sorry, today I have nothing to give; but my heart. Today I give you my heart’. As the boy was looking intently at Jesus, he saw tears coming out of the eyes of Jesus. And Jesus said to the little boy. My son, that’s all I need. I was actually waiting for this day; today you offered me the perfect gift; the gift of your whole life and love.
Mother Teresa always used to say. It’s not how much you give, rather how much love you put into it. As we are making this Catholic annual appeal today; that’s exactly the message the Lord wanted to communicate to each and every one of us. It’s not how much we give rather how much love we put into our giving.
As a young man and a young priest, I always had a low appreciation for Vatican and the hierarchy of the church. Because the system is always slow to move and make decision. It’s like government. Who likes the government? We think they are always corrupt! I was really praying about it and I always had a passion for “draining the swamp“. When I was an associate pastor, which I was for long 10 years, I was a very popular man. If you are an associate pastor, you can always walk around smiling and if someone has a problem, you can blame the pastor. After becoming a pastor, I learned it in a hard way. It is not that easy to fix all the problems. Many times, you are just powerless. One day as I was praying about itand the Lord just spoke to my heart and said’ if you are looking for that perfect Pope, that Perfect Bishop or that perfect Pastor; you will never get one. The reason; there are no perfect people other than Jesus and Mary. All others have some plus and minus qualities. The Lord calls imperfect people to bring aout His great Mission.
As we all have experienced, for the past couple of years, we went through some difficult time in the Catholic Church and in the diocese of Memphis. The Lord has a reason for all that. We may not understand it right now. But when we meet Him, everything will make perfect sense. The Lord knows what he is doing! We can do nothing about our past. Rather we can work together as a team and move forward with the mission of the church: ‘knowing Jesus and making Him Known’!
As we are making a pledge today and these days for our annual catholic appeal; I want all of you to pray about it. Please listen to the Lord in prayer before you do that. At the peak and at the most important part of the celebration of the Mass, the priest prays this beautiful prayer. “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever”. We are basically saying to the Lord; “you are the source of all blessing and without you I have nothing! Psalm 24 reminds us, God is the sole owner of everything we have: “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness” (Ps 24:1). St. Peter reminds us of our duty of stewardship: “As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Peter 4:10). The New Testament refers to our stewardship to God 87 times. Paul claims that he is the steward of Christ’s Gospel. The good steward never forgets that God is the Source of all he possesses and that all his possessions are given to him in trust, so he handles them accordingly.
Our Goal for this year is $380, 000. It will bring so much joy to the Lord, Archbishop Kurtz and me as your pastor, if we have 100% participation. I wouldnow encourage you to please come forward and drop in your pledge before the Lord. Let’s remember that it’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into it. May God Bless you according to your generosity!