April 22, 2018

During these days of the Easter Season we continue to unpack the meaning of the resurrection of Jesus for our lives. You and I are called each Easter to recommit ourselves to following the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. At Easter we renew the promises of our Baptism and say once again, I believe! Each Sunday, as we gather for Mass, our response to the Word of God, is to make our profession of faith - to say I believe!

Our profession of faith reminds us, week in and week out, that our lives as Christians are rooted in this belief in our God who is our Creator, who came among us in flesh and blood out of love, and who now lives with us in his risen life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our whole Paschal Season, that is, the ninety days of Lent (40 days) and Easter (50 days), is our annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to following the one who creates, saves, and sustains us on our way. Another way to put this is that the Paschal Season is our opportunity to deepen our discipleship. During this season of Easter we focus on the new life that God has given us in the Resurrection of his Son. During this season, we don’t fast, as we do in Lent, but we feast.

In our second reading for today, from the first Letter of St. John, we hear, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” We have been given life and salvation simply because we are loved by God. We haven’t earned it. Our life, from conception, through death, and into everlasting life is pure gift, pure blessing. And so we feast.

For a disciple, that is, one who strives to follow Jesus, our response to God’s creative, saving, sustaining love is gratitude.  Nurturing a heart that grows in awareness of how much I have been blessed, is the foundation of our commitment to Jesus. He is with me, as my Brother, my Friend, my Savior. All I can do is to say thanks through a life committed to him.

When all is said and done, the disciple wants to know, “How do I say thanks for such a great gift?” By using, nurturing and developing all that the Lord has given me - my time, my talent and my treasure - and then making a return in thanks of a portion of these gifts.

As we begin reflecting on our gift to the Archdiocese in the Annual Catholic Appeal, this is the starting point. The starting point is not what our parish goal is, or how much we can afford to give, or for what parish project will use our rebate. All of those are elements of the Annual Appeal, but they are not the most important thing. What is most important is for each of us to reflect on the gifts the Lord has given us, and then to make a return in thanks.

Sometimes people will ask, “How much should I give?” And while there are guidelines that can be helpful in determining the amount of time, talent and treasure that I should give, what is  most important is for me to make a voluntary contribution that reflects my gratitude. What is much more important than the amount I give, is the act of giving itself. This act of giving says, “I believe, and I am grateful.”

As we say “I believe” at Mass this weekend, may our gratitude for God’s creative, saving, and sustaining love be deepened.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni