GIVING – WHY WE CAN’T HELP IT.
HOMILY – ASCENSION [B] 2018
Why do you give? Why do I give? Why does anyone give anything at all? The answer, I know, is pretty obvious. It is impossible not to give. We are born to give. It’s in our DNA. A gift might acknowledge affection, or gratitude. It could be given to create a memory, or even an obligation. The ultimate gift is the gift of self, and I witnessed that gift last weekend in the marriage of my niece. Kathryn and Stephen, like so many of you, gave themselves to each other with the promise they intend to hold the gift in trust as long as they both live.
Gift-giving comes naturally to humans, but the practice is much older than humanity, with its origin in the One who said, before anything else was: Let there be light – and gave life to everything, displaying that life with the brilliance of colour and the wonder of variety.
The parish received a gift this week – the long-awaited, but still verbal, engineering report on the earthquake status of our Cathedral. It carried news of a problem with the roofing structure. We will probably have to close the Cathedral for the strengthening work to be done but, in the meantime, there is no restriction on access. You are free to make your own decision about being here. We will have further details when the written report arrives.
While we may not welcome this particular gift, it does come at a good time – as we reassess our own personal level of gifting to the parish. 117 years ago, the Catholics in this city gifted this church to their community and to future generations. It replaced the original cathedral on this site, gifted by the first settlers; 30 years ago, the parish community gifted further beauty, with the addition of the chapel, the foyer and Connolly Hall.
At a later date we’ll hear how we can send the gift of this Cathedral forward into the next generations, strengthened and refurbished, but today we begin by checking how we can share from our own personal resources, to keep the parish vibrant and relevant in this largely secular city. As priest I have always been reluctant to talk about money – but even the apostles had to accept its necessity for pastoral survival. Today’s newsletter carries the first of some printed information to help your understanding of our situation and to assist your personal response.
Today is also Mothers’ Day when we especially remember and honour each of those who have given themselves in motherhood. Gifting the world with new life and nurturing that life, often at great personal cost, can only come from a loving heart. Motherhood – a gift to cherish and protect above all else.
We speak of the Church as Mother: called to be a welcoming, safe haven, with a heart for compassion and mercy, with an unconditional love, a centre for peace and healing. Perhaps that’s the best focus for you and I as we think about how best to support our parish. If we want Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish to reflect qualities of motherhood, we each have to gift from ourselves to enable this to happen.
Gift-giving is part of our nature. When our gifts contribute to life and support community, they are helping us to meet our commitments to the God who called us into a partnership – to care for one another and the creation of which we are a part. In this regard, there is a mothering instinct in each of us. Now is the time to let it shine.