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The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 12, 2017

     As a child, I grew up directly next door to St. Basil the Great Church and School in Valleo, California. This was the same church my mother served as housekeeper and cook for the priests. This was the same church where I served 7:00 a.m. daily Mass. This was the same church I helped my father clean on Monday nights; he too was employed by the church as caretaker and custodian. This was his second job, which helped pay tuition for me to attend the very same Catholic elementary school where I met my husband, Michael.  I suspect that this entwined, enveloping experience I had as a child shaped the view of church that I hold to this day. That is, that the church is the center of my life. Just as my father would never say, "No," to the church alarm ringing next door at 3:00 in the morning, I would never say "no," when given the opportunity to speak about stewardship.

St. James Cathedral is a long ways away from St. Basil the Great, but it’s just as much a part of our lives, and it’s an equally remarkable place. We found ourselves here two and a half years ago. We were looking for a faith community, searching for warmth, and desperately seeking a message of God’s love and inclusion. Ironically, our needs were fulfilled by the very unrelenting needs of this place and the inviting people who work so hard to fill them. We met friends through our work with the Winter Shelter, we were blessed by exchanges with Cathedral kitchen dinner guests, and we found a sense of meaning through the Sandwich Ministry.  The blessings we have received have far outweighed our contributions. We have found a home, where we have been accepted for the people we are today, yet challenged to be better tomorrow.

The history of my marriage with Michael is a little more typical.  From the beginning of our marriage, we had goals for our family.  At first, it was buying a house. Then it was having children and providing for their Catholic school and college educations. Admittedly, it was hard to find room for charitable giving back then, but we tried to squeeze it in in small amounts, thinking that we could make it a priority one day, maybe when we earned more money, or when our children were older. Over time, we came to realize that the demands, needs and desires of our earthly lives never recede, and that true stewardship means giving of whatever we have, wherever we are on our life's journey. We came to better appreciate that true stewardship is planned, committed and sacrificial.
Michael and I, throughout our marriage, have been greatly blessed. We have been blessed with four beautiful children—Sam, Isaac, Grace, and Imani. We have been blessed with times of fortune and misfortune.  Throughout all of these, all that we have- however much or little- is a gift from God. Habitually giving God a return on these gifts,  no longer feels like a burden – it has come to feel more like a blessing.

When things are going well, this practice runs smoothly and can make you feel fulfilled. When things are a little dicey and you don't have a job, or you decide—as we did!-- to adopt two children instead of one, or those Catholic school tuition payments are taking their toll, things get interesting. The reward is that those are the times you feel the most faithful. Times like these remind me of a story from Africa:

A missionary had taught his people to tithe. He had explained that "tithe" meant "one-tenth," and that this should be their goal. He also had emphasized the difference between giving what is left over, and giving off the top.

Early one morning a man came to the door with a fine fish, explaining that this was his "tithe".

"You must have done well," said the missionary, "if you already caught 10 fish."

"No," said the man. "This is the one I've caught so far. I'm going back now to catch the other nine."
In our experience, God truly does provide the other nine, or at least help along the way with the faith that things will fall into place. At times sacrifice is called for,  but that only serves to remind us to put our stewardship lenses on and remember that we are not put here merely for our own enjoyment and comfort . We are put here to be Christ's hands by serving the people he loves so much.
We love this church, this awesome parish where we are so blessed to pray and serve. We thank everyone at St. James for serving us along the way.

Michelle Maher





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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
Phone 206.622.3559  Fax 206.622.5303