The first reading is from the Book of Jonah.
If you have never read the whole book of Jonah, you can easily do it;
it’s very short and it’s very funny.
When God first calls Jonah to go to Nineveh
and call them to repentance, the prophet runs away.
Why? You can find out in the last part of the book:
Jonah knew God would end up forgiving the people – if they repented –
and Jonah felt foolish having gone through all that.
Which raises a point: sometimes doing the right thing
can make you and me feel foolish.
So, for example, someone comes to you and gives an apology,
and you accept it.
People around you say, “oh don’t be so foolish, that person’s fake!
She’ll turn on you again.”
And sure enough, that’s what happens. Was it foolish to forgive?
Which raises the question: is God foolish?
To be good to those who ignore him?
To forgive and forgive and forgive?
God has forgiven me in confession more times than I can count –
how about you? Should God stop being so generous?
To choose to be generous – with our time,
with our talents and our money and other resources –
is, purely and simply, the right thing to do.
In doing so, you and I are imitating God.
If you give food to a street person in Dayton,
maybe he will throw it away, or trade it for drugs. You don’t know.
But God knows exactly what everyone of us will do
with the gifts he gives us – and yet God gives abundantly:
Above all, giving himself to us on the Cross!
It is not that we don’t want to be prudent; but in the end,
it is simply a good idea to be generous;
and I mean that in the broadest sense, not only with stuff,
but above all, ourselves.
Today throughout the 19 counties of the Archdiocese,
we are kicking off the annual Catholic Ministries Appeal.
Archbishop Schnurr sends out a recorded message,
which some parishes will play instead of the homily.
I don’t do that; instead, I try to give my own homily,
drawing on the Archbishop’s message.
Let me remind you of the good works you make happen with this fund:
- Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services
- Hospital, campus, and prison ministries;
- Stronger evangelization efforts;
- St. Rita School for the Deaf;
- The seminary and vocation programs;
- and our retired archdiocesan priests.
To quote the Archbishop,
“ Despite … tremendous obstacles and setbacks
that many donors themselves encountered last year,
the 2020 CMA campaign exceeded its fund-raising goal of $5 million…
“Catholic Charities and Catholic Social Services
provide emergency food assistance, including drive-through options,
to meet the increasing needs of families.
“Hospital chaplains remain a vital, physical presence
for those they serve, especially when
family members were not permitted to visit.
“And our retired Archdiocesan priests,
while a part of the high-risk population for COVID-19,
continued to serve as they are able, helping with Masses,
the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and more.”
Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll get a letter
inviting you to take part.
Also we’ll have some envelopes in the pews in a couple of weeks.
Every year Saint Remy parishioners are generous – thank you! –
and we exceed our goal.
You should know that when we go above the goal,
some of that comes back to our parish
and helps pay for our programs for our kids.
The past 10 months have been pretty bumpy and stressful.
But one thing has stayed constant: you’ve been generous in helping people in need.
And that’s an encouraging thing.
Let’s stay steady on that path. It’s not a foolish thing to do.