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Reflection: Growing Givers Jun 28, 2024

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr Gerard Photo
Fr Gerard Photo

Growing Givers

June 29 celebrates the Solemnity of two of my great heroes, Sts. Peter and Paul; it is also my first anniversary of ordination – along with Fr Francis’ third! It is believed that Peter and Paul were martyred during the 60’s AD, during the Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christians. While June 29 originally celebrated the feast of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome according to Roman mythology, Peter and Paul’s feast on June 29 was intended to make an existing Pagan celebration Christian – thus commemorating the giving of their lives as the seed of a new Christian Rome.


Two things are notable about these prominent saints – especially in the context of our two-week preaching series on sacrificial giving: the first is that, like Jesus, they gave everything. Indeed, tradition has it that St Peter felt unworthy to be crucified like Christ, and so requested to be crucified upside-down. St Paul on the other hand was beheaded, as Romans did not crucify their own people. The second notable thing is that both Peter and Paul grew along the course of their Christian journey to the point that they were able, and even desired, to give everything.

This gives us the opportunity to think about our parish’s approach to ‘growing givers’. Talking about giving from this perspective both grounds the conversation in biblical truth and means that wherever we find ourselves right at this point in time as a giver is exactly where God meets us. The Good or perhaps challenging News is that God never leaves us where we are.

The stories of Sts. Peter and Paul very much relate to our story; illustrating that although we are human and have our flaws, we can, and necessarily must grow into Christian maturity – always seeking to become that which we are not yet fully: daughters and sons of God. Peter may have been the first Pope, but this did not mean he was perfect, denying his knowledge of Jesus not once, but thrice! Despite these flaws, Peter’s story is ultimately one of redemption and transformation. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter was forgiven by Jesus (John 21:15-17) and he went on to become a steadfast leader of the early Church, demonstrating courage, wisdom, and deep faith. Peter’s flaws and subsequent growth highlight the Christian journey and the potential for personal transformation.

St. Paul, too, was not always a faithful follower of Jesus. Before his conversion he persecuted and killed many Christians, notably, St Stephen, the first martyr. While Paul had significant flaws, a confrontational nature, and rigid views, these aspects also contributed to his depth as a person and his powerful narrative of transformation and growth in faith – to the point of dying for what he believed.

Growing givers is profoundly related to growth in our Christian journey. That journey often leads me to think and pray about how God worked in Peter and Paul’s lives, and how God continues to work in our own lives. While God definitely does not make us more of this and less of that, we are offered opportunities to freely choose how we respond. Sometimes those opportunities are offered in a spiritual sense, sometimes they are offered through written text in the words of another person. As we listen and read about sacrificial giving over these two weekends, I encourage you to reflect on your personal growth as a Christian giver. I also encourage you to build your friendship with Sts. Peter and Paul at this time of the year.

Stay strong in the faith, Fr Gerard

If you would like to download and read the 2023/24 Annual Performance Report, please click here.

 

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