Give More Money for Heaven’s Sake!

(photo: Image Credit: The Widow's Mite from “The Bible panorama”, via Wikimedia Commons)

Stop and think for a moment.

Why are we commanded (it’s not an option) to give sacrificially to the work of the Church?

Most people assume it’s because the Church has to pay the bills, the priest needs a salary, the church needs a new roof and we have to help the poor people. Yes and no.

We certainly do need money for mission, but there is a more profound and disturbing reason we are commanded to give.

In the Gospel a rich young man asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answers, “Sell all that you have and give to the poor.”

Look closely. The primary reason is NOT so the poor will have food and shelter. The primary reason for the command is that the man will be able to inherit eternal life.

Jesus then goes on to say how difficult it is for rich people to enter eternal life—more difficult than a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

So where does that put us? An awful lot of Catholics in the USA are wealthy. By world’s standards, very wealthy. What do they say? “If you have one computer in your home that puts you in the top 5% of the world’s population wealth-wise.

Most of us are wealthier—far wealthier per capita than our grandparents could have dreamed of—and yet our churches and school continue to have to beg for money. We continue to have to put on gala fund raising events, sell stuff and coax people to cough up even just a little of their money.

Yes, I know, I know. There are some Catholics who are very generous, and thank God for them, but we also have to stop and be realistic.

Many Catholics don’t give very much to the Church at all.

The big scary problem here is that this lack of generosity is not primarily a social issue. In other words it’s not so much that the poor will be hungry and homeless.

Instead the really big problem is that we have to draw the conclusion from the Gospel that if you are rich and you are not sacrificially generous then you will go to hell.

There. I’ve said it. If you’re rich (and most Americans are rich by the world’s standards) and you are not sacrificially wealthy, you will go to hell.

And now I will hear the good religious people tell me how wonderful they are, what good works they do, what time they give to the Church, how they say their prayers and read their Bible and lead good lives.

Read that Gospel again. That’s exactly what the rich young man said to Jesus. He told Jesus how good he was.

The underlying principle is very simple—“you cannot serve God and money”—and a sad majority of American church-going Catholics still serve money, not God.

As I said at our local Catholic high school recently, holding up in one hand a one-dollar bill and in the other a picture of the Lord, “You can’t serve George and Jesus.”

So why should you give more generously? For Heaven’s sake. For your soul’s salvation, because if you don’t you’re serving George not Jesus, and if you serve a false God you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.