Jesus calls each one of us to discipleship. It is the most important calling that we have as Catholics — to be His disciples. He wants us to come to Him. He desires us to see Him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But He doesn’t force us to come, nor does He force us to act. He wants our “yes,” our willful decision to “deny yourself take up your cross and follow Him,” knowing that in following Him, we will find our true fulfillment in God alone.
“The Scripture teaches us, from Abraham to Jesus, that the entire discipleship journey is one of trusting in God,” says Fr. John Moriarty. “As disciples, we recognize that God has given us everything. The invitation is that by trusting in Him we offer everything we have back to God in gratitude.”
This requires great trust, especially when it comes to giving of our treasure. Fr. John said, “When we give of our first fruits, we are trusting God and witnessing that He comes first in our lives, and we can see how He is working through all the ways we use our fruits.”
What’s more, Fr. John has additional thoughts on one piece of the vision as it relates to first-fruits giving. Earlier this year, Fr. John decided to stop our in-house second collections (the diocese still has second collections) that had become commonplace over the years.
“The reason is that when we are asking for parishioners first fruits and then it seems we are asking for extra when we take up second collections. This is a cherry-picking model that I would like to move away from. I would rather parishioners find your first fruits range of giving and we operate our budget/spending from that gift.”
This means we might have to say “no” to certain ministries if we do not have the financial fruits.
Under this first-fruits model, we will take five percent of the offertory and distribute it to the four Outreach Ministries (St. Vincent de Paul, CCS, Tuition Assistance & One Fund) instead of taking up second collections. This means that some weeks, those ministries get more than they used to and some weeks they get less. However, Fr. John is sure that the decision to give of our first fruits will bear great rewards for these ministries and for us as a parish community.
This model of giving invites us to reflect on our faith and trust in God so that at home, at work, in the parish, and in the greater community we can see that God is working!
Regarding our first fruits model, Fr. John suggests a breakdown of our giving in which we give five percent of income to the offertory, one percent to the diocesan annual appeal, and four percent to other things God puts on your heart.
Let us witness our discipleship by trusting in God’s power as we offer our first fruits. Thank you for your faithful response and generosity.