There was song back in the 1980’s called “What You Need” by a group called INXS (pronounced “in excess”).
It reminded me a song by the Rolling Stones from 1969 (hard to believe that song’s over 50 years old now!) titled “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” After repeating that line 3 times, the next line stated, “But if you try, sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
Going back even a few more years, The Beatles released the song “Money (That’s What I Want)” on their second album.
Notice the talk about “wants” and “needs.” The Gospel is clear to point out that God will provide for our needs, and not necessarily our wants.
How will God do that? Through others, since, according to St. Teresa of Avila:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion
is to look out to the earth,
yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good
and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now.
When parishes talk about stewardship today, the message most people hear is, “They want money again.”
But stewardship is SO much more than that.
Stewardship is realizing that everything we have comes from God. It’s a blessing to us, and we’ve been given those gifts to help build the Kingdom of God. As Marty Haugen’s text from “We Are Many Parts” tells us:
We are many parts
We are all one body
And the gifts we have
We are given to share.
Think of it as “regifting.”
A retreat facility we support has a “Wish List” of items that they need for their summer retreat programs, and schools I work with routinely publish a list of things they need, like facial tissue, paper towels, magic markers and safety scissors.
So…what about your parish? What, besides money, does your parish need?
Some people are reluctant to give money, but they bring food for the food bank for the hungry, clothes for the naked, and 24 packs of bottled water for the thirsty. That’s a wonderful way to share our gifts – but what if the rectory needs a new roof?
In order to receive major monetary gifts from individual donors, or grants from corporations and foundations, development professionals know they need to be able to provide a good “case” statement. Simply put, that means to provide a reason “why” support is needed. A school might want to build a playground at the school – not only for the children to use at recess, but to have a place for families to gather on the weekends or during the summer. “Building a case” that benefits many groups of people can result in many gifts being offered to fund the project.
And the key to every successful development campaign is, “The Ask.”
Christ also tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you.”
Therefore, while “why” is important, and the “what” is important, the bridge between the two is the “how.” “How” we ask will determine if our efforts bear fruit.
Rather than saying, “We need $4,000 a week to make budget,” why not share why that amount is needed, including what services are required, since “budget” isn’t a tangible thing for most people. However, a roof is!
And there may be people in the parish that can’t provide monetary support for what parishes are in need of, but they may be able to provide their talent to do what needs to be done, especially at this point in history. Parishes may need electrical and plumbing work done, and, while there may be an on-staff maintenance person, there may be critical technology issues requiring outside expertise.
During this economic downturn, many folks just don’t have the money to provide major contributions, but still have talents that can be utilized. Parishes, especially in the Northeast, are seeing populations age, and many of them are living on fixed incomes. Because of these demographic changes, parishes are merging, and worship sites are closing. Younger families are struggling to provide their little ones with what they need, as well as some of what they want. Perhaps they will have means in the future, so monetary gifts still have to be cultivated.
However, people are still willing to share the resources they have right now – they just need to know “what you need” AND “why you need it.” They are, and need to know they are, Christ’s hands. If they receive the body and blood of Christ at Mass, then, indeed, we are Christ’s body, and we need to carry on and fulfill His mission, which is now our mission.