Paul: Apostle, Missionary…Fund Raiser?
Statue of St. Paul in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
Memorial of St. Romuald
St. Paul is rightly revered as a great apostle and one of the greatest missionaries the Church has ever known. But he was also a dedicated fund raiser. One might even consider him the development director for the nascent church.
In today’s first reading, Paul uses several strategies to encourage the tumultuous church in Corinth to reach into pockets and purses to support the collection for the church in Jerusalem:
- Admonition—Those who sow (i.e. give) sparingly will also reap sparingly (spiritually), and those who sow bountifully will also reap bountifully.
- Encouragement—People should give freely and willingly, not under compulsion.
- Promises—God is able to make the grace at work in them so abundant that they will have more than enough “for every good work,” and God will multiply their harvest of righteousness.
- Recognition—Their generosity is leading to thanksgiving to God.
This passage challenges me to consider my own stewardship, not just of my (meager) financial resources but at least as much of my time, talents and charisms, my motives, etc. Do I give with freedom or anxiety? Do I recognize that all I have is ultimately borrowed from God? St. Romuald, the founder of the Camaldolese hermits, didn’t necessarily have much material wealth to give to God, but he made prayer, silence and simplicity his gifts; and he offered them completely.
It’s interesting. Our local public radio station is finishing up another pledge week. (For the record, our friary is a regular supporter as we all listen to NPR.) As I’ve listened to the allegedly occasional breaks from programming so that various hosts can make their pitches, I can discern all of the strategies that Paul employed nearly two millennia ago. But I also know that God is giving and will give me much more than another episode of Morning Edition or a tote bag. –JC