The Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
I write to you from Israel as we are on pilgrimage toward Jerusalem. Today, in fact, we are visiting Nazareth, where we will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Annunciation, built over the place where Mary was when the Angel Gabriel visited her to announce God’s plan for her. We will also visit the site of Joseph’s carpentry shop. We will pray there for our parish community of St. Joseph as we give thanks for Joseph’s patronage and intercession for us and our work of discipleship.
Jesus lifts up the sacrificial gift of the poor widow as a great show of love and devotion, and she reminds us what devotion is all about… a gift of ourselves. The prophet Elijah benefited from the generosity of the widow of Zarephath, who provided hospitality from what she had. As we celebrate Veterans’ Day this weekend, we also celebrate the selfless service of our military veterans, and we pray for those who continue to protect and defend freedom and work for peace. We offer a special blessing for veterans at Masses this weekend.
This week, we sent out our Annual Report to all registered parishioners. The report includes the state of our finances at the end of the 2018 fiscal year and an update on our strategic plan, highlighting our plans for this year. In the midst of the challenges of the scandals facing the Church, our work as a parish continues: we gather to pray and worship God, teach the faith, visit the sick, serve the poor, bury the dead, and comfort those who mourn. I am grateful that so many have expressed your commitment to our parish even as so many of us are frustrated by what we are hearing about failures and problems among some of our leaders. We depend primarily on our offertory contributions to sustain our work and pay our bills. While we are not conducting an in-pew stewardship commitment drive this year, I ask your prayerful consideration of your own commitment to sacrificial giving this year. We have budgeted for a 3% increase in offertory (the budget was set and approved back in June, long before the news of scandals broke). We will also have extra copies of the report available in the church next weekend.
With changes in tax laws last year, some parishioners have chosen to make their offering to the parish through contributions from IRAs or other funds. Please contact the parish office if you would like information about how to facilitate a donation in that way. I also encourage the use of Faith Direct (online donations) as a convenient way to make your offering. You can set up recurring monthly or bi-weekly contributions.
We can do great things for the Lord when we come together to serve, and we are an encouragement to each other through our generosity of time, the work of our hands, and the offering of our stewardship.
Finally, let us pray for the Bishops of the United States who gather here in Baltimore this week. There is much to be done to bring about healing, and I hope that their work and their deliberations will lead to effective changes for greater transparency and accountability in all levels of leadership in the Church. And we pray, too, for healing for all who have suffered the tragedy of abuse or betrayal of trust.