Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Oct. 14.
Today we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mexican Martyrs Council of the Knights of Columbus here in Rogers. Since this is a Spanish language council, it is obvious that the great majority of its members are immigrants or the sons of immigrants — like the great majority of the people attending this Mass. And one thing that almost all immigrants have in common is that all come here in search of a better life, which not everyone obtains.
Some succeed in improving their circumstances but others do not — even if they work just as hard. And what is the biggest difference between these two groups of people? Their priorities. In their relationship with God, in the life of their family, in how they raise their children, in how they manage their money.
It takes discipline to live according to one’s priorities, but that is necessary if you want success in this land of opportunity and the first step is to set your priorities. Jesus speaks about our priorities throughout the New Testament, but in today’s Gospel he limits himself to speaking about how this works in the decisions we make regarding the use of our money.
• His first point is that doing God’s will has got to be our No. 1 priority in every decision we make, including regarding our money. In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the rich young man, “Go, sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven, then come, follow me.” In other words, trust in me and in God’s providence. But when Jesus saw that the man was unwilling to put God ahead of himself, God ahead of his money, he added: “How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of God! ... It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God!”
A very sobering message for us who have a comfortable life in the richest country in the world — we all live better than the majority of the people in the poor countries of origin of most of our immigrants. And notice, Jesus does not ask everyone to give up everything like this rich young man, but the Bible does set a minimum of 10 percent, which is where our word “tithe” comes from.
If you love your money more than you love your God, your priorities are not in order, so if you’re not giving God the 10 percent minimum that is rightfully his, you will not be able to pass through the eye of that needle either. By giving our tithe, we recognize that everything we think we own really belongs to God and we just have the use of it for a time.
• A second point is that taking care of your family has got to be your No. 2 priority in the decisions you make regarding your money: these are the people God has most directly entrusted to your care and the Bible says you have up to 90 percent of your income with which to do it. And once again making a budget and sticking to it is a key to success: saving up to buy a house, buying a less expensive car so you can afford to put your kids in Catholic school, economizing so as to be able to help provide for your elderly parents. Getting your priorities right so that you use your money the way God wants you to, and thus in the manner that most benefits your family.
And so in making your budget some of you may have to ask, for instance: “How can I justify spending so much on a fancy pick-up when I could be giving my kids an excellent Catholic education instead?” — a high priority, God-and-family item. And I could give you a lot more examples, but I think you understand what Jesus is saying in today’s Gospel.
Do we really expect to pass through the eye of that needle with all of the stuff we buy with the 10 percent that rightly belongs to God and misappropriating the other 90 percent to waste it on our own selfish desires instead of thinking first about the needs of the other members of our family?
Today on this 10th anniversary of the Mexican Martyrs Council of the Knights of Columbus we remember in a special way the six priests who were members of the Knights of Columbus and who had their priorities in order. We have their relics with us here in this Mass and an icon with their images. They gave their lives for the faith in a time of severe persecution in Mexico in the 1920s and 30s of the last century. It is obvious that doing God’s will was their highest priority. Just like good Catholics anywhere, they put God first and themselves last.
On the last day you will have to account for what you have done with all that God has entrusted to your care. If what matters to you most is doing God’s will and taking care of the family God has entrusted to you, well I am sure you will pass successfully through the eye of that needle. In this Mass we see that this is the vision of the Knights of Columbus and for that reason, I would like to invite those of you men who are not yet Knights to become one. And after this Mass there will be more information about how to become a Knight of Columbus.
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