Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Churchgoer Is Generous With Money; Not So Much With Spirit

Dear Tazi:

I am a daily churchgoer who tithes (yes, we are out there in this hedonistic society!). Each month, I send a check for 10% of my gross income directly to my church. I believe the money I donate is between me, God, and the parish bookkeeper. However, at weekend masses when the collection basket is passed, I would swear the other parishioners are giving me dirty looks because I do not put in any money. These are the same people who arrive at mass late, leave early, and live sinful lives the rest of the week! I will not be judged by such hypocrites, and want to say or do something to let them know that their disdain is sorely misplaced; however, I am not comfortable saying something during mass, and like I said they leave early so I cannot approach them after the mass.

I have considered putting an empty envelope in the basket each week, just for show, but I fear that would be a show of pride, something the Bible teaches against. I would talk to the pastor but I am afraid I might sound petty, even though I do not feel as though I am being petty. My reputation is being sullied, and I want to set the record straight. I have asked myself, "What would Jesus do?" but am uncertain of the answer, so now I am asking you.

Monthly Giver

Dear Monthly Giver:

You want to know "What would Tazi-Kat do?" I feel so appreciated! I might have to make this my new slogan. To answer your question of what I would do, I would do nothing. No, check that...I would follow the advice of the gospel of Matthew, 7:5: "First cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye" (KJV).

Check your pride at the door, please...

Perhaps others at mass are throwing dirty looks your way, or perhaps it is your imagination. What concerns me more is your statement that you believe your financial contribution to your church is between you, your God, and "the parish bookkeeper", yet you seek to let others know just how often you give, if not how much as well. To reference the gospel of Matthew again (6:5): "And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men..." (KJV).

While your attendance record at mass and your generosity of wallet are admirable you appear to lack a generosity of the spirit, referring to those you assume are judging you as "hypocrites" who "lead sinful lives", on top of your blanket statement about our "hedonistic society". Are you not a sinner, too? I am reminded of yet another passage from our friend Matthew (7:1) "Judge not, that you be not judged." (KJV).

If, after reflecting on your own behaviors and attitudes you are still bothered by what you perceive to be dirty looks (real or imagined), I suggest that you deposit your check in the collection basket once a month (or on a weekly basis) rather than send it directly to the parish offices - just be sure to explain the reason for the change to your pastor. He is, after all, the leader of the congregation and he has a right to know if you are being made to feel uncomfortable. Perhaps this is an issue he or she can address in a sermons.


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