February 26, 2024

By Father James Zimmer

How much can/should I give to CFSA?” you ask. I’d suggest a bigger question: “What does God want to do for me, through my CFSA pledge?”

That’s a radical question.

It puts the focus on God’s will, not mine. It exposes my poverty, and the answer will change me.

“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, ‘Amen, I

Father James Zimmer

say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood’” (Mk 12:41-44).

Are you willing to face this possibility: “contributing from my poverty”?

How can I, rich as I am, “contribute from my poverty”? What good will that do with so many needs?

As a priest at Sanford Hospital for a number of years, I constantly discovered I am poorer than I think. In front of debilitating, discouraging, often incurable disease and injury, I did not have what people needed. I was as poor as they. I needed Christ as desperately as they. When I pretended I had what they needed, it fooled no one. They were not moved, nor was I.

When I remembered Christ was there, and begged him to give himself again as he had so many times before, then I was moved, as were those to whom Christ sent me. I found myself more caring, more loving—authentically generous. It was as if I became more myself, and gave more of myself. They, for their part, were strengthened and comforted.

I had given from my poverty, which allowed Christ to give his riches.

We, the Church, are like that. We are the poor widow. Each of us has nothing apart from God, no matter how wealthy some of us may be. The more we live from that poverty—we cannot live without Christ—the freer Christ is to give himself. And the more we’ll notice it, and want to follow him.

“This poor widow has put in more …” We’ll become those who really make a difference. In the words of Monsignor Luigi Giussani, founder of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation, “The real protagonist of history is the beggar: Christ who begs for the heart of man, and man who begs for the heart of Christ.”

The Catholic Family Sharing Appeal (CFSA) is one of the ways Christ begs for my heart. Aware of my poverty, of how much God has given me (much of it directly through CFSA), I beg, “Lord, what do you want to do for me, this time?”

My pledge is itself a gift of God for me. I need it. I am richer because of it. If it’s not for me, it’s not for those to whom I give it. Am I willing to ask, “Lord, what do you want to do for me, through CFSA?”