Homily kick-off weekend for Capital Campaign

Fourth Sunday of Easter (Cycle B) / Kick-Off Sunday
April 21-22, 2018
Gospel: John 10: 11-18

Jesus is the Good Shepherd… sheep need a shepherd. We are all sheep. The whole call of 'evangelizing', which is the work of this parish, is bringing the sheep to the Shepherd. Like a good shepherd, arms are expanded to pick up and to embrace. Our work and our prayer is to embrace those whom we know and those whom we do not know. How we get this done is by listening to God and His Son and doing their Word.

Building on the sacrifice for a new place to pray (this church), the next stage of doing His word is to prepare and plan for newer and better space. Our growth and stability calls us into this action. Today, we begin, formally, our campaign entitled "EXPANDING OUR EMBRACE"… reaching out is not new to this parish. Today marks the beginning of a prayerful, parish journey into a renewed commitment as a parish to evangelize those within our church and those who are to come, some soon, some later.

Remember Jesus uses rather strange words, "I have sheep who are not of this fold"? What does that mean? Could it mean those who are unchurched or unreached? Like a good shepherd, we are called to gather them one by one and bring them into the fold. Friends, our lack of better, useful dedicated space for children, our young people, our adults and our seniors sends a message about how we value people… ourselves and our guests. As I say often, we need to become 'better', not 'perfect' at what we do and where we do His Word.

So, how we get that done is through our ministries and programs. Our church is the primary tool by which we serve each other … while reaching out to a world that does not know Jesus nor His Father…who is OUR Father.

So, I, as the shepherd of this local church, which is dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier and his work, call everyone to journey in prayer, preparation and sacrifice in responding to the next level of evangelizing. Just as our ancestors started 172 years ago … we do today.

I heard about a farmer who called the parish office asking to see the "Head Hog at the Trough". The parish secretary said, "Sir, if you are talking about our beloved pastor, you can call him Father, but I don't think it would be proper to refer to him as "the Head Hog at the Trough." "Well, all right', the farmer said, "I just sold a few sows and was going to donate ten thousand dollars to The Building Fund". "Oh, just a minute, sir", the secretary said, "I think I just heard the little porker come in!"

For that kind of gift, I'd gladly be the Head Hog! pause
Friends, I rarely, if ever, share about myself to this level. In my own discernment to what level I am able to apply sacrificial giving, I had to accept the challenge to think and re-think my desire to do something extraordinary. God has given me the means to do so, so now I must. Weighing all my own personal responsibilities, as well as challenging my own standards of "giving til it hurts", I have already pledged to you, the good people of SFX, in a three year commitment, over and above all the other giving that I do right now, the amount of $10,000.00.

Now, in a word, "that scares the daylights" out of me, but I REALLY feel this is what God is asking me to do as your pastor, the leader, your friend, a shepherd. So much can change, up or down, but I do pledge all in my power to fulfill my commitment to God, His Son and to you. Ordained persons like me come and go, but this is your home in which I have been invited to participate and invest… for at least another six years…

So, I more-than-invite you to follow me on this journey. Look at what was accomplished with this church 11 years ago. Owing to our deceased parishioners their sacrifice, new folk have come to replace them with the same spirit and fervor of sacrifice that comes from Gospel-giving.

Commitment Weekend is three weekends away. What an historic day it will be, just like 11 years ago, but even more crucial. Everyone has time to take this matter to prayer, answering,

"What is God asking you to do for Him through each other, through this parish?"

Our formula to success is "not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice" over and above what we already give to support the ministry of our parish. In a word, our stewardship is not "robbing Peter to pay Paul"… (such as…instead of here, I'll give it there)… that kind of action does not 'complete us'… but "going the extra mile" does…

Together, you and I need to raise $2.5 million dollars. That is an intimidating figure… it was in 2007 when we took action to build this church, it still feels intimidating today. But it becomes less intimidating when we have already had some pledges made in the amount of $480K. So, my friends, we are on our way… I honestly believe that all of us, pulling together, can get the rest we need… from within.

There is a story about a man who came to church with his family. As they were driving home afterwards, he was complaining about everything. He said, "The music was too loud, the sermon was too long. The announcements were unclear. The building was hot. The people were unfriendly. (Clearly he was not here at SFX!!!) Well, the man went on and on, complaining about everything under the sun. Finally his very observant son said, "Dad, you gotta admit it, it wasn't too bad for a dollar!"

A dollar does not do what a dollar did… years ago. In 1965, our now old church cost $56K … today it would cost us $443K to replace it. So the same goes for any donation to build it … if some person or family gave $1,000.00 (over three years) to help build it in 1965, their donation would need to be $8,000.00 today.

What we do today will only increase in value…

Like in the Gospel of today… that one missing sheep… we cannot afford anyone in our parish to go 'missing'… it will take everyone… it will take all of us to complete the picture of "Expanding Our Embrace"… everyone… we can't leave it to the person sitting next to us… in front of us or behind, we own our parts in this parish and move forward… dedicated and committed.

Doing the Gospel by saving a lost sheep or selling a sow … Priceless.

Ask God what He wants you to do. He'll tell ya!


Posted: April 24, 2018