God is the author of life

Readings: Jer. 1.-4-19; Ps. 71; 1 Cor. 12.31-13.13; Lk. 4.21-30

Today begins a series of three successive Sunday homilies pertaining to the Archbishop's Annual Appeal. Today is Announcement Sunday. Next week is Commitment Sunday for those who have not yet responded by mail to the AAA. The third weekend will be Follow-Up Sunday. Today, I will speak for a few minutes about generosity, and the parish's lay representative for the Appeal, Sandy Seidel, will speak for a few minutes about the Appeal's benefits to the archdiocese and our parish.

Thank you. This parish and this town have demonstrated extraordinary generosity in helping people in need. St. Joseph Parish has donated very generously in time of international disasters. Just last week, we donated $7,500 for the earthquake victims at Haiti. Different parish societies raise and distribute funds: the Ladies Sodality, the Holy Name Society and Knights of Columbus. Our 5th graders currently have a campaign called Clothed with Compassion whereby they are gathering garments for a shelter at Harrisburg. Our Teen Youth Group will be collecting canned goods and donations next week on Super Bowl Sunday for the town's Food Bank. Many of us contribute regularly to the fundraisers operated by Mother Seton School and Mount St. Mary's University.

Every month, our largest second collection is the one designated for the poor. The town of Emmitsburg outdoes itself in works of charity: the American Legion and VFW donate to countless organizations including our parish during the Repair & Renovation Campaign. The Lions Club provides seasonal food baskets and gifts. Our little town is blessed with our very competent and responsive Ambulance Company and Vigilant Hose Company. We have the Food Bank, the Pregnancy Center, and every church in town donates to Seton Center which serves the poorest of the poor. Many of us happily contribute to the 1st Lieut. Robert Seidel III Wounded Soldiers Fund. Many other charitable activities could be mentioned. I trust that everybody in this town is very generous.

All is gift. Today's first reading says that God is the author of life: "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you." The second reading reminds that God has created us to love, and that "the greatest of all gifts is love." The gospel teaches us that Jesus has come to save us: "today this Scripture reading is fulfilled in your hearing." Our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health is all gift. Recall for a minute people whom you know who suffer physically , emotionally , mentally and spiritually . Your education and employment is gift. God gave you a good mind to benefit from your education. Consider your current employment with which you have been blessed. We all know too many hard-working people who right now can't find work. All is gift. Thank God for your blessings. Thank God that you live in this town, in this country in this century.

The Scriptures say that we will repaid a hundredfold for what we give in the name of the Lord, and that the Lord will not be outdone in generosity. When I was a child, my parents used to rob Peter to pay Paul every week. But each week, the first expenditure from my dad's pay was the church donation. We O'Malley's never had much in terms of material goods, but we grew up with lots of faith, hope, and love, and expectation that "things would work out."

Things do work out. Thank you for all you do. I encourage you to keep being good by doing good for God's sake and for God's people who are in great need.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley