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There is a village of farmers who have to travel a distance to church. This is an added burden to their heavy load of work. So the local pastor got permission to build them a church, and they are now making good progress. The problem is this: the farmers are poor, and you can only squeeze so many gallons of liquid from a grape. So the pastor asked a friend who used to live near the area for help. That person happens to worship now at St. Clement. When I heard the story, I wanted to help the pastor. Here is the reason why: when I first came to St. Clement I had a lot of work to do to fix the church and little money to do it. I said to God, “If you really want me to fix up your house, I am going to need some help.” Sure enough, people came to help. I have no idea who they were or where they came from, but I was thrilled that God sent me help. I think that God is sending us to help this pastor halfway across the world so he can experience what I felt when people from nowhere came to help me.
Jesus sent out the twelve Apostles in pairs. He told them not to bring any money, food, or clothes. How do you travel with nothing? Still, they went, and they helped people. They cast out their demons and addictions, cured their illnesses and diseases, and brought them closer to God. They made a big impact on many people. When the people saw these twelve very nice and helpful people, they said to them, “Where are your shoes?” What are you going to eat? Where do you stay? And the people were generous to them because they themselves were very giving of themselves. This is how Christianity spread: people helping people when they are in need.
When I was first here and struggling to pay the bills, I asked the Archdiocese for some advice on how to raise money to fix St. Clement. They sent me their most successful fundraiser. When I met him, he told me, “I know you are strapped; I know you need every penny, and that you are just barely trying to survive with what you have. But that can never stop you from being generous. Keep giving to those in need because you will get it all back.” It is true.
As you know, I am a Bible guy. I love reading and studying Scripture. I think I have read everything ever written on St. Paul’s letters. This is what I learned: Paul had one mission, and that was to unify Christians. He wanted to begin the church by setting in place the most important quality of Christ. Unity. As we know through history, we have not always been very good at unity. Yet, Paul did leave us a roadmap to unity right from the get-go. We may not still be perfect, but if we could always be generous, making sacrifices for others, we will always be united and strong.
So here is the deal: The pastor has raised half of the funds. He needs another $10,000 to finish the project. Apparently, the dollar goes a long way in a little village in Vietnam. Thank you for your generosity over the past weekend. We have raised just over $8,000. We are so close to meeting his goal, and he can finish the church soon. If you contribute (1) you will help build a church which is a noble task, (2) people halfway around the world will say, “who are these people and where did they come from, this is so wonderful, and (3) and whatever you give, you will get it back because God is never outdone in generosity. Christians will always be strong and unified when we are generous.Back to All Homilies