Put your money where your mouth is. That challenge can be leveled at people who speak about their concern for others but do nothing. Words, no matter how wonderfully crafted or poetically delivered, do not alleviate suffering.
Those who declare their compassion for persons who are homeless, hungry, or unemployed, or for victims of sexual abuse or human trafficking, or for those in the womb or at the end of their lives, can rightly be challenged to back up their words with their money.
As Saint James tells us, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:16)
Words of compassion need to be paired with financial contributions that help those in need and support organizations seeking to improve the human condition.
That is also true when it comes to words of faith. We need to profess our faith not only with our words but also with our actions and with our money. That message is found in the readings for this coming Sunday.
In the Gospel (John 20:19-31), the Risen Lord appears to his disciples that first Easter Sunday. He blesses them with the Holy Spirit and commissions them to be agents of mercy and forgiveness.
The Risen Lord comes again the following Sunday. During that appearance, Thomas the Apostle makes a profound profession of faith as he declares Jesus to be his Lord and his God.
That same profession of faith was also made by the first Christians. They proclaimed their faith in the Risen Lord and they did so with their words and also with their money.
As we learn in our First Reading (Acts 4:32-35), “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common….There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.”
The generosity of those Christians was so powerful that we are still impressed by it some 2,000 years later. They let their faith in Christ guide the use of their money and possessions.
Today, we are called to share our faith in the Lord who overcame the power of death. We are to tell others of the One who reveals the meaning of life and who can fill the empty place in the human heart. We are to speak of the positive difference that Jesus Christ has made in our lives.
But that cannot be done with words alone. We live in a society flooded with words. We need to proclaim our faith by our actions, and perhaps most especially by what we do with our dollars.
Christians who generously share their wealth to help others and to support the work of the Church have a greater chance to be heard than those whose money and faith are disconnected.
Like Thomas, we are to profess that Jesus is “My Lord and My God,” and we are to do that the same way the first Christians did. We are to do it with our words and with our money. Otherwise, we might be challenged to “put your money where your mouth is.”
© 2021 Rev. Thomas B. Iwanowski