Monday, March 23, 2015

Homily Commitment Weekend March 21/22, 2015 Austin, TX

          In today’s Gospel some Greeks – that is, Gentiles like almost all of us – come to the Apostle Philip and say “We would like to see Jesus.”   Well, in the Gospel of John seeing is always MORE than physical sight.  When these Gentiles ask to see Jesus they are asking for something much deeper than a mere sighting.  They want to understand, to grasp, to “get it” about Jesus. in the sense of “Oh, now I see!”.  And this is because Jesus shows us what our life here is really all about.
          We all know we are here in this life only a short time.  And we know instinctively that life has a meaning, a purpose, that my life has value.  We sense deep inside us that my life matters: that I have some work to do; someone to become.   I am not here just for consumption, not just for pleasure or a great time, not just to make money and accumulate a bunch of stuff that I must leave to others, not just fill up space until I die. 
          But knowing what my life IS truly all about is not easy to discern; to “see” as St. John would say.
          We have however the example of a truly authentic life – a life completely lived way beyond any petty selfishness, way beyond any confining or restricting attachment to things, way beyond fear:  a life of nobility , of authenticity, of love.  I am speaking of course of Jesus.
          To “see” Jesus is to really understand – to comprehend – to grasp, or better to be grasped by the beauty and authenticity of His life that empowers us to be authentic Children of God. 
          What a blessing it is to truly see Jesus!   To follow Him gives us balance, a center, meaning and purpose.  To follow Jesus gives our lives dignity, grace and spiritual beauty.  It fills our hearts with love and casts out fear.  What a blessing it is to truly see Jesus.
          Not that following Jesus is easy.  It is often difficult.  Most truly worthwhile things usually are.   To see and follow Jesus requires sacrifice.
          We as a parish for over a month have been involved in a campaign – the Faithful To Our Mission campaign.  I am here to urge and encourage your participation in this effort to be Faithful To Our Mission.
          Hopefully you know what this campaign is about, what we need and want to do.  You received a letter from me, and a beautiful brochure, there are FAQ pages in the racks around the church and church offices, so I won’t rehearse all of that again.
          Rather I want to ask for your participation in this campaign.  First, I ask for your prayers.  Prayer does not change God.  Prayer changes us.  We need to pray for our parish, that we will truly be faithful to our mission.  This is so important.  Pray for our parish daily.  Pray for our campaign.  With prayer we are bound to succeed.  Without prayer we will fail. So pray!
          Second:  Our mission is to evangelize, to help others to see Jesus.  They are looking, they are searching.  They are in our workplaces, our supermarkets, our neighborhoods, our own homes.  People restless, searching, seeking deeper meaning in their life.  How can they see Jesus if we do not reflect Him? 
          We must show Jesus forth in our lives:   in our words, in our purchases, in our work, in our recreation, in our compassion, in our speech, in our generosity, in our voting, in our daily life every day all day.  We are how other see Jesus.  That is how we fulfill our mission.  And in reflecting Jesus ourselves we also come to see Him more clearly.
          And thirdly, I am asking for your generous financial support of our Faithful To Our Mission capital campaign. 

This is where we practically and concretely move our mission as a parish forward.  I ask EVERY parishioner to please participate – no matter the amount.   As long as your gift represents a genuine sacrifice, and therefore a real commitment to our mission as a parish, the amount is secondary. 
          For myself my financial commitment is $2,000.00 over three years.  For me that is a sacrificial commitment.  For someone else it may be $200, and for another it may be $200,000.  I wish!  But regardless of the size, every gift is important.  Because this is a parish-wide activity. 
          We soon will be celebrating the Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.  And I know from past experience that we will do it well.   Am I right?   But the vastly greater and more important part has already been done by God.  There is no greater sacrifice than what God has given you in His Son Jesus on the Cross.  We respond by giving of our treasure and of our selves. 
          This is a parish wide effort.  St. Austin needs all parishioners to participate in this campaign to ensure success!  Our campaign Volunteers were unable to reach some of you, and others have not yet had a chance to respond.  Everybody is so busy.
          So to give everyone the opportunity to participate in our campaign, today is our Commitment Weekend, an in-pew appeal.  I ask that everyone to please pass down the blue folders at the end of the pews and take a pledge card and envelope out for your family.  Even if you have already completed a pledge card, please take one.  Our collection will be a visual show of your support.    University & College students, I urge you to join us. 

  ·       In section one of the card, please provide your contact information.
·       In section two, please indicate a gift which, over three years, would be a meaningful sacrifice for your family in support of St. Austin Catholic Parish.  If you have already made a pledge, please mark the first box indicating this.
·       This will allow us to confirm our records for your family.
o   I would ask you to also consider increasing your commitment in recognition of the importance of this campaign and in hopes of reaching our goal.  This is so important to our parish moving forward.   As I mentioned earlier, I have made a commitment of $2,000.00, but Now I am going to INCREASE that by $500 to $2,500.  I want to challenge all of you who have made a commitment likewise to increase your pledge to be a truly sacrificial gift.  Join me in making sure the Faithful To Our Mission campaign is a success!
o   There is a blue box on the back of the card with some suggested gift amounts if your family would like to review those.
o   There is also a box you can check if you are unable to make a financial pledge but can pledge to pray for the success of our capital campaign and renovation project.  Everyone is urged to pray for our parish and this campaign. 
·       On the back of the card, in section three, please indicate how you want to provide your pledge.
o   You can contribute via cash or check, credit card or bank account draft, or gifts of securities.
o   Instructions for credit card and bank drafts are provided on the card. If we have any questions about your information, someone from the office will contact you next week.
o   Please be sure to seal your pledge card in an envelope if you include any banking information.
·       Finally, in section four, please note how often you would like to receive pledge reminders and how your family would like to be acknowledged for your gift.
          In a few minutes, we will pass our pledge cards to the center aisle, and the ushers will collect and bring them forward for a blessing.
          Your response to the Faithful to Our Mission Capital Campaign has been impressive. With more than two million dollars pledged, we are on the cusp of obtaining the one million dollar challenge gift!
However, the fact remains we have not yet reached the challenge gift goal of two point two five million dollars nor have we reached our overall goal of four million dollars.  We want to achieve that goal today, and we can!

          We are blessed with a really good parish here at St. Austin’s – not perfect – but still something special.  This community has a mission.  As we soon go into Holy Week we will focus on the great saving mysteries of our faith.  May the celebration of Holy Week empower us to ever greater efforts to be Faithful To Our Mission – and so ever better to SEE and to FOLLOW Jesus!  God bless!  THANK YOU!  

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