Saturday, February 10, 2007

Will the Lord say 'Woe' to us? (Sunday homily)

Note: this is the unedited version.

This weekend, at all Masses, the Sisters of Reparation to the Sacred Heart are here promoting the message of Divine Mercy. (They will give a presentation tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm, along with Exposition and Benediction, at St. Mary. Feel free to come!) So, at the end of Mass, Sister Mary Grace came forward to give a preview. Well, I forgot about that when I wrote this, so when I delivered this homily, I cut it short for her sake...

The Lord’s words just now are shocking—
at least, they should be.
If they didn’t hit us like cold water in our faces,
we aren’t listening!

“Woe to you, rich!”

Are we rich? Many of us in this community are hurting.
Not enough work, and many can’t pay their bills.

Compared with the rest of the world, we’re blessed.
Yet the burden of debt is still crushing.
Being out of work is soul-bruising;
not being able to provide for your children—
I cannot imagine that pain.

This is an opportunity to talk about
the Church’s social teaching.
Caring for the poor; doing justly;
making the world a better place.

We don’t talk about this enough;
it can be rather overwhelming,
talking about poverty, racism, economic justice.
And it often becomes too political.

In the Gospel, Jesus didn’t say anything
about politics or minimum-wage laws,
taxes or government programs.
Yet Scripture says, failing to pay a worker’s wages
is a sin that cries out to heaven!

Some make it all politics;
some say it has nothing to do with politics.

Both are wrong!

As I said, this topic can be rather abstract.

So let me be very concrete:
Here’s what Archbishop Chaput of Denver said—
“If we forget the poor, we will go to hell.”

I repeat:
“If we forget the poor, we will go to hell.”

We can legitimately disagree about how to do it;
but if we think we don’t have to do it all;
the “woe” the Lord promised will fall on us.

Let’s stay concrete.
Our Catholic Faith says
everyone deserves a “just” wage.

We can debate government policy and get nowhere.
But as a parish, we can do something, immediately.
So, let’s ask the question: Do we pay a just wage
to our school employees and parish staff?
We try—but I think we come short.
Our battle against deficits tells us
we can’t afford what we’re doing now,
and we surely can’t afford to do more.

So—what shall I do?
Raise school tuition $500 a year?

No? Then we get more from the parish?
Only the parish doesn’t have it.

No, I know how generous many are.
Some can give a lot—and they do;
Others struggle to give $5—and yet, they do!
Still others give sacrificially of their time.

I am grateful.

You have heard me make the pitch for buying SCRIP,
as a truly pain-free way to help our parish and school.

Again—many do that.
But I have to tell you, many do not.
Many do far less than they could.

This parish could raise over $100,000 a year
from SCRIP—but we don’t come close to that.

Some say—the line is too long;
my answer: you volunteer to help sell it!

Some say, I don’t what to do; you can ask!

See, we can get all theoretical about this,
but this is as nuts-and-bolts as it gets:
Buy SCRIP! How’s that for practical?

If we had the money, I wouldn’t push SCRIP.
(I wouldn’t beg you to work Bingo.)

But we, as a Catholic community,
aren’t providing just wages—
because we don’t have the money.

SCRIP is a remedy in our hands, already.
And yet…

I use SCRIP to buy all my groceries.
I know most of you don’t—because if you did,
We’d already have $100,000 or more a year!

So what else, really, is there to say?

Now—I didn’t decide to talk about SCRIP
until Saturday afternoon.
So I didn’t arrange extra volunteers to sell SCRIP.
So, obviously, everyone can’t respond, today.
Here is what I’m asking you to do, right now:
Will you commit yourself, right now?
Will you make it your own, personal responsibility
to buy SCRIP, especially for your groceries,
since, obviously, we all have to eat?

Folks say, “be practical”—this is practical.

SCRIP is easy, costs you nothing, it’s pain-free!
The minor inconvenience
isn’t even worth complaining about,
when you consider people’s wages are at stake!
Together, we’re the employers—we’ll answer for it!

On Judgment Day, what will you say?
“I’d like to have helped,
but Father Martin didn’t ask enough times;
he didn’t ask the right way;
he didn’t make it easy enough.”

I don’t know what the Lord will say;
But we did just hear him say, “Woe to you.”
Please God, let it not be for us.


Anonymous said...

Is SCRIP the same thing as or part of eScrip? I find it very hand to register my credit cards and store loyalty cards through them...and also to even use their links to shop at online merchants so then can receive the small referral bonus. It's amazing how much it all adds up over the year -- and no lines! (Though, admittedly, some may have privacy qualms or no access to a computer..)

An "anonymous" that's one of the usual anonymice..

Father Martin Fox said...


I don't know about "eScrip," it may be the same or a similar program.

The Scrip program I'm describing is very simple. Various businesses will give a rebate to us in association with certificates or gift cards which we sell to our parishioners. The "kickback" varies from 4% up to almost 20% in some cases.

What really pays off are the reloadable gift cards, which Krogers offers, and also Ulbrich's, a local grocer.

You buy the card one time; you pay $10, it has $10 value on it. When you go shopping, to "load" more money on it, whatever you want -- i.e., what you were going to spend anyway.

That one, simple step -- of "loading" the $$$ on the card -- is what makes us money, because then the company knows about it, and we get $4 for every $100.

If every household in each parish did this, we'd be in great shape. At only $50 a week in groceries (I spend about that, I guess), that's about $70,000; many families easily spend $100 or more a week. And that's just groceries.

Jackie said...

Fr. Fox,

As always a well thought out and hard hitting homily. Glad you didn't edit it for the blog.

My first thought as I read the homily were a bunch of chicken or egg thoughts.

Assuming the specific suggestions on giving (SCRIP) were for your parish, the others were examples for the bigger topic and bigger group of listeners.

I always wonder - Am I giving enough? (Time, talent, treasure). For the measurable, personally, I already do 10% - though not all to my parish. But, certainly, I COULD do more.

Do I NOT do more because I live too 'high on the hog'? (I don't think so but clearly better than most of the world) Or am I doing OK but still enjoying some pleasures. What is my measure?

Actually, I think, money is the easy one - because as we fill our time with 'important' stuff - we tend to spend to 'save time' - so eating out, buying two for ease, etc.

Is this driven by not only the materialism of our time in history and our location BUT also the advertising drive of what makes a 'GOOD SUCCESSFUL PERSON' - (perfect teeth, eyes, body, hair, AS well as 2 children, going to private school, taking music lessons, dance lessons and being the star foward on both traveling soccer teams')?

Do we not have the time, treasure and talent to give - period OR are we spending it in the wrong places going after the wrong goals?

Maybe the approach is not only calling for more giving (yes, money) but also, giving up the other goals?

Just thoughts as I struggle with the right balance.

Kasia said...

Thank you for posting the homily, Father. I was more than a little uncomfortable when I prepped for Scripture reflection on Saturday (my RCIA class has Scripture reflection from right after the homily until the end of Mass on Sunday, when we have the RCIA class/lesson). I had only ever read Matthew's account of the Beatitudes, never Luke's, and so I had never heard the "woe to you" parts. Eeek! More than a little convicting...

I think this time you hit the theme of the Gospel harder and clearer than our pastor, though his homily was very good too. His focused more on the portion from Jeremiah about the tree planted by running water vs. planted in the desert. Yours touched more on what was eating at me from the readings.

Like Jackie, I struggle a lot with balance. I suppose that's really like most people. But I guess that's part of being a Christian. If it were easy...well, you know.

Anonymous said...

"If we forget the poor, we will go to hell.”

Talk about a powerful homily! In and of itself, that one sentence would have made for one of the best homilies I have ever heard. Thanks, Father, for putting that quote here. I won't soon forget it.

Father, I don't live in Ohio and I have never heard of Scrip, although I do think it is an awesome fund-raising idea. Do you have a link to a web site that I can forward to the Finance Committee of my local parish?

Secondly, will you, on this blog site, be speaking about Divine Mercy Sunday? I have a friend/co-worker that is a lapsed Catholic. He hasn't been to confession in 20 years. For the last year or so, he's asked me a few questions and said a few things that let me know that he is thinking of returning to the Church. I have read or heard that the graces received by one who goes to confession and then receives Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday are almost tantamount to those received in Baptism (e.g., complete and total remission of all punishments for all sins committed to date). Is this an accurate description? If it is, I think I will mention it to my friend.


John L. Wright said...

Kroger cards come with $10 on them. I'll buy a few to send them in cards to my family and friends all around the Country at Christmas time, or for somebody's birthday. Every time they refill the card, that is monet in the bank for our school.

Kasia said...

Father, I don't think eScrip is the same as SCRIP - I just went to try to add your parish to my eScrip account, and it has no organizations in Piqua, OH. It's probably a similar program though.

Kasia said...

Whoops - was searching wrong - but your parish is still not there. :-)

Father Martin Fox said...


I don't have a website, so all I can do is suggest you poke around online.

When Divine Mercy Sunday comes around, I expect to give some attention to it. We will also have an opportunity, that afternoon, to pray the chaplet and complete the novena.

A nearby parish has a big, Divine Mercy, event -- so last year I kept our observance low-key, and probably will do that again. I.e., if someone wants a big deal, I'm happy if they go to the other parish.