Our annual Cardinal’s Appeal once again draws near and I would like to invite you to participate. Each year I ask the faithful of this archdiocesan Church for help simply because you are so generous and so many are in need.
The Psalmist says, “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord” (119:1). Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount to not concern ourselves with storing up riches on earth for ourselves, but to “Seek First the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). This injunction sets the context and theme for the Appeal and it is precisely in this light that whatever else we do makes sense.
God’s word emphasizes how important it is that we follow his law, that we should seek first his kingdom. We have been created by God according to his plan that we should make our way through life to enjoy forever his presence in heaven. Guiding us along the way is God’s law written in our hearts and proclaimed in Sacred Scripture.
Many people today are uncomfortable with the idea of law. It is seen as an imposition on personal freedom and therefore an unwelcome and unnecessary limitation. However, the Lord’s law is not like human laws that often are burdensome and restrictive. The law of God’s kingdom is love and peace, goodness and truth. It is a law that calls us to see in those around us who have great needs the face of Christ.
Recognizing with a sincere heart our obligations first to the Lord and then to one another, our care for each other is rooted in what Saint Paul calls “God’s wisdom” – not the human wisdom of this age which too often substitutes our way for God’s way, but the wisdom of the Spirit of love (1 Corinthians 2:6-10). The Apostle adds that we should be regarded as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).
Because we see with eyes of faith, we recognize that it is only in this clear openness to God’s will that what we do not only takes on special value and worth, but actually participates in his kingdom among us. We recognize who we are as God’s family and we do our best to see that God’s love works through us. This is the unique challenge of Christian life.
Each of us is called to seek God’s kingdom and to see its beginnings realized here and now in our words and deeds. One way is through the Cardinal’s Appeal which reaches so many who need our help, even as they look to see signs of God’s kingdom and love in their life. We can be a part of their experience of God’s love touching them. We can help them recognize the gift of the kingdom.
Thanks to your kind gifts, all of us working together are able to do what individually or even as a parish we might be unable to do. It is the Cardinal’s Appeal that sustains our formation program – this year for nearly 80 future priests – the continuing education of priests in ministry, and the care of our retired and infirm priests. Your generosity also supports: the good works of Catholic Charities and its outreach to over 120,000 people each year; the oversight and direction of Catholic education and tuition assistance to hundreds of students in our Catholic schools; chaplains who bring comfort, consolation and the sacraments to our sisters and brothers in hospitals, on university campuses, and in detention centers; and our efforts to protect human life and dignity for all.
All this and much more good is accomplished through the Cardinal’s Appeal. But what is also important is that together we renew our commitment as a community as faith, as Christ’s Church here in the Archdiocese of Washington, to respond to the Lord’s call that we care for one another. To learn more, please speak to your pastor or visit the website appeal.adw.org.
Every year I have this opportunity to thank you for your past participation in the Cardinal’s Appeal and to ask that you continue to assist me in my pastoral ministry and our whole family of faith. Together let us respond to the call to let our works speak for us and let our good deeds manifest our efforts to bring about a world of justice, truth, peace and love. In following the law of the Lord, the law of love, we are truly blessed. In this hope, our fidelity and goodness might in fact help us merit, as the Gospel tells us, to enter the kingdom of heaven.