“What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:12-13)
After having worked with teens for many years, one of the most fulfilling things for me to see is them coming back as young adults in good relationships and then engaged to be married. I have found in discussing these young people’s great future and how God is moving in their lives great refreshment for my own soul and marriage.
Occasionally, these young couples ask for help in the first steps of planning out their finances. Other times they are sent to me by some of the young priests who know they need help (i.e. student loans). In these situations, I have found that I am learning, again and again, the important lessons of life.
One such situation happened recently when an engaged couple came to me and asked to talk about their finances. It was a month before their wedding, and they brought with them a spreadsheet of their plan for finances after they were married. This first attempt at their budget had off the bat a line item for 10% of their income to tithe to the church. This couple had student loan debt, no savings, no house, and a tired fading sedan with 212k miles on it, but they had no doubt in their mind that the first 10% of their income was going to go to God and His church. Wow. I felt the Lord showing me before my very eyes the story of the poor widow’s mite:
“And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living.'” (Mark 12:4-45)
The word tithe in Old English means one tenth. This is an Old Testament concept described in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. While there is is no prescribed percentage for tithing in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Canon Law, some of our Protestant brothers and sisters endorse this concept dutifully, and some Catholics also follow this rule.
The young couple I spoke of exhibited such sacrifice and trust so early in their relationship. They showed me their hope that God would take care of all their needs. While there is no set rule for how much we are to give to the Church, we are reminded that we have a duty to support the material needs of the Church (CCC 2043). And, as this young couple shows us, we should put our hope in our Almighty God who takes care of all of our needs. (Matthew 6:25-24)
Each of us needs to measure what we give back to God for the blessings He has poured out on us. After my conversation with this young couple, I considered what I spend on vacations, eating out, and coffee to go – they reminded me of my own approach to tithing. I took a step back and thought that maybe my wife and I could calculate our contributions again, now after over 30 years of marriage, rather than stick to the autopilot of “what we have always done.”
I encourage you to sit down with your spouse this week and recalibrate your gift to the Church keeping in mind all the blessings that God has poured out on you and yours.
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