“An evangelizing community (parish) is supportive…and gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives…standing by people at every step of the way … concerned with fruit, because the Lord wants us to be fruitful.” -Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, n.24
As we celebrate CATHOLIC FAMILY SHARING APPEAL this Sunday, we are reminded of the many ministries in our Diocese which build up the Body of Christ and bear fruit in our Catholic faith: the education of seminarians – future priests of our Diocese; the outreach to families through programs that help form them in virtue, chastity and respect-life; the formation of our teens and adults through a myriad of faith-based experiences like discipleship camps; the providing of social outreach for the elderly and homebound (like the TV Mass, close to the heart of the Cathedral); the assistance given to military families in need; the funding provided for Newman Centers on university campuses that help keep our young adults grounded in the faith; the counseling and help for grieving families, pregnancy/adoption counseling; and the list goes on. These vital ministries can only be made possible through our generosity and support. As members of the Catholic Church, we are called upon to ensure the religious, ministerial and charitable efforts vital to Catholic people within our Diocese, or what we call the “Local Church.” It is a sign of our “Catholicity,” the universal dimension of what we profess, to share our gifts with the entire Catholic community.
Today in the Gospel Jesus tells us that we cannot serve two masters, for the illusionary one will always obscure the true one. Ultimately the choice of who is our master boils down to two, says Jesus: “God or mammon.” What is “mammon?” “Mammon” stands for “material wealth” or “possessions” or whatever tends to control our appetites and desires. Christ wants us to be freed from our attachment to mammon because it can rule our lives, even unconsciously. Perhaps no better example is Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” The character Gollum, who finds the One Ring is drawn to its mastery over man and nature. The desire to possess his “preciousssssss” is so powerful that he is willing to do anything to have it, even if it means damnation. His heart belongs to it. In reality, as we know, the pursuit of the One Ring does not bring wealth or happiness or power; it has just the opposite effect: it brings enslavement, misery and envy. Tolkien portrays Gollum’s downfall not only in his character, but through his evolutionary physical appearance as well. The more the Ring is his master, the more wretched and ugly a figure he makes.
There is one master alone who has the power to set us free from the enslavement of sin, fear, pride, and greed, and a host of other hurtful desires. That master is the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save us from all that would keep us bound up in fear and anxiety. So let us be counted among those bearing fruit for the Kingdom by serving our master through the sharing of our goods!