Anything worth doing requires risk. When Fathers Joseph Machebeuf and John Raverdy set out in 1860 for Colorado from Santa Fe, New Mexico they took a big risk, but they knew that the reason they were taking it—to nurture and save souls—was worth any sufferings they might encounter.
It is hard to imagine today, but when the two priests arrived in Denver City, the population was only 3,000 people. Passing travelers, men involved in trading or the Gold Rush, and about 10 families meant that there were around 200 Catholics in the area, but they had no church or clergy.
Father Machebeuf would later become the founding bishop of our archdiocese, which now has more than 500,000 faithful. The risks that he took for the kingdom were great, but the rewards were even greater.
This past week many of you received material from this year’s Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. You will see that I chose “Disciples Take Risks for the Kingdom” as the theme for the 2015 appeal. I decided on this theme because every Catholic is called to step forward in faith when the Lord asks us to trust in him, just as our first priests did.
We see this in Scripture when Jesus gave the disciples the “Great Commission.” After he had risen, he told them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ….” Jesus accompanied this charge with the assurance that he would be with them “always, until the close of the age” (Mt 28:19). In the subsequent centuries the Church has spread to the ends of the earth precisely because men and women trusted in God and took the leap into the unknown.
But the call to bring the Gospel to everyone is not just geographic in nature. Jesus asks us to bring him into our families, careers, interactions with strangers, and our finances.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us how the early Christians understood that placing the goods God had given them at his service was an indispensable part of believing the Gospel. “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32).
The reason that Christ asks us to give, and the reason that the Israelites were commanded to give is that tithing changes our hearts. Giving opens our hearts up to trusting in the Lord and helps us acknowledge that he is the source of all we have. When we give, we take a risk for the kingdom and we open our heart up to trust in God above apparent security of material possessions.
This year, whether you are giving for the first time or are a frequent supporter, I encourage you to prayerfully ask how the Lord is calling you to trust him in the financial and spiritual realms.
When the believers of the community are of one heart and soul in their desire to follow the Lord Jesus, then great things are able to be accomplished for the kingdom. I think, for example, of the more than 1 million nights of shelter that Catholic Charities provided to the homeless last year, the 600,000 meals given to the hungry, or the hundreds of families helped by Regina Caeli Counseling Services.
May God continue to bless you this Easter season and grant you the courage to take risks for the kingdom.
>> Donate to the appeal online here.