Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?

In today's first reading, Job is having a bad day: "Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?" In the second reading, Paul is suffering persecution, but he has a very positive attitude: "I am free in regards to all. I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible [for salvation]." In the gospel, Jesus was very busy. He healed St. Peter's mother-in-law, and "after sunset, he healed many who were sick with various diseases. In the morning, he said, 'Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach to them.'" We are asked to be like Jesus, to be good and to do good for many people. We are asked to be positive-minded like St. Paul. Like Job, we all suffer from time to time, and we are asked to live with faith in God despite our current sufferings. Overall, we are called to put our faith into action.

In this context, Archbishop O'Brien has asked that this weekend, every pastor at every Mass preach about the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. This appeal has a new name, a new timeframe, and a new structure. Instead of being called the Cardinal's Lenten Appeal, it is now called the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. Instead of taking place during Lent and still soliciting funds six months later, the appeal's pledge timeframe will be before Lent and last just three weeks. The new structure consists of the pastor speaking the first weekend, the archbishop speaking via an audiotape the second weekend, and two lay parishioners speaking on the third weekend. What remains the same is that each parish receives a rebate of 25% once it reaches its goal, and a rebate of 50% for all monies received beyond the parish's goal. As in past years, the total funds collected by the archdiocese are distributed in thirds. About one-third is assigned to the 80 programs sponsored by Catholic Charities and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, including immigrants, the elderly , the disabled, and 8 archdiocesan overseas missions. About one-third supports archdiocesan youth and education, including pro-life programs, Catholic schools, and religious education programs for all archdiocesan school children. About one-third is returned to the parishes as grants to support their various projects and programs.

During the Repair & Restoration of St. Joseph Church, our parish was exempted from promoting the Cardinal's Lenten Appeal. Now that renovations have been completed, and our bills have been paid in full, our parish is expected to participate in the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. Each parish in the archdiocese has been assigned a monetary goal based on 9% of its annual collection income. The goal for St. Joseph Church is $33,000. Among the 154 parishes in the archdiocese, about 80 parishes have goals that are higher than ours, ranging up to $225,000. About 70 parishes have goals that are less than ours, as low as $6,000.

The Church from its earliest days has asked that people donate to people in need. The Acts of the Apostles states, "from each according to their means, to each according to their needs." St. Paul collected donations from Christian communities as far east as Asia Minor, to as far west as Rome to assist the poor in the churches, especially at Jerusalem. Some church communities like the Philippians in Asia Minor gave very generously. St. Paul instructed all his communities: " the Lord loves a cheerful giver." (2 Cor. 9.7) In one sense, some of us may feel that we never have enough; we could always use more of whatever we have. In these times, we all have less. In these times, imagine how the poorest of the poor, and the recently poor must be struggling. I trust that most of us at some time in our families have experienced not having much money, and therefore not much of any material goods; and in those times, other people helped us. Reflect on how we might help people now who have less than we do. This parish has been outstanding in its charity towards the people who lived far away from us: the Tsunami victims, the people of Darfur, seminarians in Africa, earthquake victims at Myanmar, and Hurricane Katrina sufferers at New Orleans. Now we are being asked to donate locally, for the benefit of those who live within the environs of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, including ourselves. I know you are an extraordinarily generous people. God and other people have been good to us throughout our lives. May we be as generous as possible now to the Archbishop's Annual Appeal.

Let's conclude saying together the prayer found at both ends of each pew: The Prayer For The 2009 Archbishop's Annual Appeal.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley