In this “Year of Mercy,” we are called to choose love first. Active love, not passive. Personally, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt a time in my life when this concept has been easier to claim and admire but harder to live. Love? Yes. I’m on board. How can you argue against choosing love? It seems the hard part is living this calling in our full everyday lives. We live in a time when we feel like we have all the information at the tip of our fingers but instead of feeling enlightened, we are burdened by our realities. Perhaps this is why the knowledge that comes with age makes it difficult not just to choose love, but to even see it through these realities. Each day, when we read the headlines or face our own challenges, it can be really easy to become angry, jealous and bitter.
I find myself easily distracted, both by this busy life but also the heartache that surrounds us. I watch friends work tirelessly to give their families every opportunity they can afford but still come up short as they struggle to make ends meet. My heart breaks knowing of the inequity and the startling acts of violence that plague parts of our city. And as a parent, I’m terrified as school shootings are no longer shocking and we hear constant stories of children abused or abandoned. Day in and day out, Basilica staff members see the need as temperatures drop and our doorbells ring more often from those in need.
Yet in this grey area, and because of this, we must be active in choosing love. Our world needs it. When you witness those around you choosing to lead a lifestyle inspired by love, it creates ripples and inspires others to do the same. I see this everyday at The Basilica. Love is choosing to live a life of gratitude over anything else. It’s choosing charity over fear, giving of ourselves even when it’s hard, knowing that the fulfillment will make a difference.
I’ve seen this at The Basilica when a staff member shares their own lunch, a book or even some tissues with someone waiting outside as they make their way into the office. It’s the beauty of the human spirit when we see one another rise to the occasion, choosing love helping a stranger in need instead of passing by, or dropping everything to be there when a friend faces a loss. This is a lifestyle of generosity, and choosing active love.
This fall, The Basilica will ask you to participate in our Financial Stewardship campaign. This is an invitation for choosing active love as your gifts ensure that every day, our community will create justice and spread love through Basilica ministries that serve the unemployed, the grieving, the homebound, those dealing with mental illness, and those who simply need a caring, compassionate, listening ear.
We can do so much when everyone takes part. At The Basilica, stewardship pledges provide 81% of our operating budget. Every time we gather for Mass, send volunteers out with meals, gather children for religious education, and support families in times of grief or joy, someone’s gifts have made it possible. And each time these ministries or programs happen, love is spread throughout our community. And this love has ripple effects, and can make a difference as we face the real challenges we see each day.
I hope you will consider a 2017 pledge today, and be a part in this beautiful cycle of choosing love. You can pledge online, fill out a pledge form and mail it in, or bring it to Mass next weekend. You may also contact Stephanie Bielmas for answers to any questions you may have about supporting The Basilica.
Generosity truly is an act of faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.