How Should I Respond to God’s Gifts?

A Recap of This Sunday’s Word

  • At Mass this Sunday, we heard the prophet Amos says “Woe to the complacent…they shall be the first to go into exile.” When we take God for granted and live for ourselves, there are consequences.
  • In the second reading St. Paul says, “Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” We are reminded that our faith demands that we be vigilant and hold fast to the truths that have been revealed to us. It takes a great effort on our part, but the reward is happiness now and for all eternity.
  • In the Gospel, we have a parable about a man who was complacent and had no concern about eternal life until it was too late. He had the resources to help others, but he lived only for himself. His selfishness blinded him, and he didn’t even notice poor Lazarus who was starving at his door.

The Test for Us All

We have all heard this Gospel many times and perhaps we have said to ourselves, “If I were rich, I would be generous.” However, this Gospel is not just directed to the rich. It is directed to each of us; to you and to me. Life on earth is a test of our generosity.  God has given us all something that He wants us to share with others, and we will never reach our potential for happiness until we share what we have.

What Do I Have to Share?

For some, what they have to share may be obvious, like the rich man in the Gospel. For others, it may be a gift they have not even discovered yet. Especially in the spiritual life, the gifts God gives us may remain hidden until we begin to invest in our faith. When an adult makes a decision to become a Catholic, he or she needs a sponsor to journey with them through the process we call R.C.I.A. Usually the sponsor is a spouse, fiancé or friend, but times it is a member of the parish they may not even know. In every case, the sponsor receives as much as the candidate because the gift of faith is being discovered, renewed, and deepened with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What God Has to Give

Our Catholic faith is the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE, the greatest treasure we can possess. It affords us the most intimate relationship possible with our Creator through the sacraments of his Church. How is it that God loves us so much that he allows us to receive him under the appearance of bread and wine, and he rests within us?

Responding to God’s Gifts

God is serious about this idea of not living for ourselves, as our Sunday readings indicate. We all have something to share.

  • No matter how much money we make, we should share generously as a sign of our trust in God who is the source of all blessings.
  • God has given us gifts and talents that he expects us to use in our faith community. We each have 24 hours every day; how much of this do we invest in laying hold of eternal life?
  • We have heard people say they don’t have time to pray. Our prayer is our connection to God ,and the more connected we are, the greater the possibility of discovering his plan for us.

The readings today challenge us to discover, live, and share our faith for our good and the good of the whole Church. Faith is a gift from God, but believing is a choice. In one of his talks, Bishop Fulton Sheen said the only thing we really have control of is our free will. God has made it possible for us to discover his plan that will lead us to happiness now and forever, but it depends upon the choices we make.

Lord, give us the grace to choose wisely and not to become complacent.

Deacon Tom Fox, K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit

Our Weakness, His Strength

Throughout salvation history, God has chosen to accomplish great things through men and women whom he calls into his service beginning with Abraham. In today’s first reading God calls Moses to lead the Chosen people out of their slavery in Egypt. To get Moses’ attention God speaks from a burning bush and reveals his name as “I am who am.” Moses is speaking with the Almighty, He who is without beginning or end and he must take off his shoes in His presence.

Trapped by Our Weaknesses

In the next chapter of Exodus, we will see that even though Moses has heard the voice of God and is given miraculous powers, he still doubts his ability to carry out the mission God has given him. He was focused on his own weakness instead of the power of God.

Especially, in matters of faith, we can be like that.

Freedom In Faith

In baptism, we received the gifts of faith, hope and charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In baptism, we all start out equal as children of God. We become members of His body, which is the Church, and in this Church we have every means to grow in our faith and discover the gifts that God has given us. Which will be necessary for our vocation and for the building up of the Body of Christ. God expects that the gifts he has given us will bear fruit, but we can stifle those gifts by just living for ourselves and whatever makes us comfortable.

You are planted.

This brings us to the Gospel and the parable of the fig tree. The purpose of the fig tree is to bear fruit. The owner of the tree wants to cut it down because it does not produce fruit, but the vine dresser asks for more time to cultivate the tree hoping that it will produce fruit. Jesus is the patient vine dresser and we all are fig trees in this parable. In baptism, we are planted in the kingdom of God through water and the Holy Spirit. We receive equally everything we need to come into full maturity and produce fruit according to God’s plan for us. Through the Eucharist and Confirmation, we receive nourishment to sustain us. We are pruned through the sacrament of reconciliation and the sacrifices and reparations that make up our life’s experiences.

Get fed.

No matter what our career is, our most important purpose is to produce fruit for the kingdom of God and for this we all have an equal opportunity. Our fruitfulness depends upon our own desire to be faithful to what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church. We cannot produce fruit on our own; we must be connected to God. By having a personal relationship with Him by daily prayer, reading the Scriptures and the lives of the saints, living the sacramental life, and being involved in our faith community.

Bear fruit.

This is where we discover and use the gifts God has given us and by continuing to be formed in the faith. When we live our lives close to God in this way, we become witnesses of His presence so that others might come to believe in him. God’s plan for the salvation of the world is that those who believe in him will live and share their faith, so that others will come to believe in Him.

Like Moses, we may not feel adequate to play a role in God’s plan of salvation, but like Moses we must say yes anyway, take our eyes off ourselves, keep focused on God, and allow him to work through us. It is only in God that we will find the strength we need to carry us through the painful circumstances of our lives and the grace that will enable us to make the difficult choices we know we must make.

This is when our faith truly bears fruit, so that we can experience the peace and hope that only Christ can give!

Pilgrim Center of Hope offers spiritual resources to help nourish & guide you on your journey and connect you to God and His Church. Visit us in person, by phone at 210-521-3377, or explore our website!

You do not have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ.

Deacon Tom Fox is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Tom continues to serve as a permanent deacon, at St. Matthew Catholic Church in San Antonio.