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MONDAY HOMILY: Giving Everything

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The parish gave to the Lord what they had, and he supplied the rest, multiplying their offering like the loaves and fishes

The apostles didn't hold anything in reserve for themselves.   They gave everything to the Lord, as he asked.  There was no provision for a personal safety net; everything was entrusted to God.

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P>SUGAR LAND, TX (Catholic Online) - Someone I know tells the story of a young priest who was assigned to a poor parish in the inner city.  Despite his relative youth, the priest was entrusted with the responsibilities of a pastor, not because of his abilities, but because no one else wanted the parish.  It was poor, run-down, and in need of a great deal of care and pastoral service.

Swamped by the scope of material and spiritual challenges of his assignment, the priest, despite his trust in God, could not help but to feel a bit overwhelmed by everything.  Compounding the human difficulties was the fact that the parish only had $835 in the bank.  It wasn't enough to pay the light bill.

To make matters worse, while celebrating Mass on the Sunday after his arrival, there was a near-disaster during the consecration.  The church had a simple altar, made of plywood and covered with plastic laminate.  Because the altar was wood, an altar stone had been recessed into the mensa (the top of the altar).  During the Mass, the altar stone fell to the floor, just as the Host had been consecrated.

The priest heard a "thud" during the elevation, and upon genuflecting to adore the Eucharist, he saw the altar stone lying on the floor.  Only the three layers of starched linens had prevented the chalice and paten from falling through the hole in the altar.  The priest took this as a sign.

"OK, Lord," he said, "I take it from this that you want a new altar for your church.  We will build you one, but we only have $835 in the bank.  You can have that, but you're going to have to multiply it."

About a year later, the Bishop visited the parish to consecrate the new marble altar, which was installed as part of a wholesale restoration of the church.  A few days earlier, the priest had tallied the cost of the work.  The total bill was more than $100,000 and it was paid in full.  In fact, when the pastor wrote the last check to the final worker on the job, the parish was left with $835 in the bank.

The parish gave to the Lord what they had, and he supplied the rest, multiplying their offering like the loaves and fishes.

From that day forward, that young priest never worried about money again.

St. Matthew's account of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (Matthew 14:13-21) teaches us to trust in the providence of God.  This is not an example of the "prosperity Gospel," a false teaching widely promoted today which holds that God will give material rewards and wealth to those who trust in him.  Instead, this passage teaches us that God will give us what we need - even if it isn't fully what we want - and that we should always trust in him.

An essential element of this providence, however, is our cooperation.  The apostles had five loaves and two fish.  Hardly enough to feed a multitude numbering in the thousands.  But they offered what they had, and Jesus did the rest.

Notice that the apostles didn't hold anything in reserve for themselves.   They gave everything to the Lord, as he asked.  There was no provision for a personal safety net; everything was entrusted to God.

As a result of this generosity, Jesus works a great miracle.  He will work miracles in our lives as well, but we must do what the apostles did: offer him the gift of ourselves, whole and entire, without holding anything back.  If we do so, we can have confidence that the Lord will multiply what we offer and produce abundant fruit in our souls.

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Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com

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