Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, 5 not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, 6 whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. 8 This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent and beneficial to others. Titus 3:4-8 (NAB)
317 What zeal men put into their earthly affairs! Dreaming of honors, striving for riches, bent on sensuality! Men and women, rich and poor, old and middle-aged and young and even children: all of them alike. When you and I put the same zeal into the affairs of our souls, then we’ll have a living and working faith. And there will be no obstacle that we cannot overcome in our apostolic works.
As we get closer to November, I am receiving more and more programs geared to what people call “stewardship,” each with a promise to increase the giving of my congregation. Some might even market themselves as being “different.” That is, they aren’t just about money, but also about encouraging people to use their time and talents to benefit the church.
Some even talk about coming out and doing the program for you or sending audio and video. One recently indicated that since it was the focus of the worship services, you didn’t have to ask people to come to any other meetings. I usually don’t use “canned” studies or sermons, so these go pretty much unopened, unperused. The other reason is that I don’t agree with the goal, of increasing giving.as a primary focus of worship.
As I read the quote from St. Josemaria, I thought about this a little more, that we invest our zeal in so many things. It might be “our” football team. It might be a hobby, such as hiking or fishing or sewing and quilting. We relish the time we spend doing those things, and the people that do them with them are among those who we count as our closest friends. We might even zealously invest ourselves in those friends, apart from the things that bring us together – even church.
But what if we were as zealous about our relationship with God? What if we had that kind of attitude about spending time with Him? What if we pursued the means of grace – the scriptures, the sacraments, including prayer, because we treasured the precious peace, that reminder of His ever present love?
What if we understood these things Paul told Titus to be insistent about teaching the people of God entrusted to Him?
Paul indicated that this would result in Titus’s people (and therefore our people) devoting themselves to good works as well, works that are excellent and beneficial for others!
I think this is exactly what St. Josemaria was talking about as well – be zealous about the affairs of our souls, about trusting and depending on God in our lives, and then everything else ends up taking care of itself. And nothing will hinder apostolic/missional efforts, the needs of the ministry will be met, and more will follow.
This is, living by faith, by dependence on God. It takes a while to get used to, and a determination to preachChristt crucified, whether on the pulpits or in the streets. As it seems like crisis hit, there will be a temptation to go back to hyper-focusing on giving, but there will come a time where you realize God is at work, that He will provide, as the idols we fashion fall to the side – and our focus becomes the kind and generous love of God.
Deliver to them the message of Christ, give them the hope of sharing in His glory, and the rest… will care for itself. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 820-823). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.