Dear Faithful of the Diocese,
We are inviting you to make a difference in the lives of our unborn children by providing you an opportunity to financially support organizations who work hard to ensure the protection of all human life.
The I Shall Give Half campaign is a response to a poor choice made recently by our national legislators.
For 45 years, the United States Congress – whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans – has maintained that taxpayers should not be forced against their conscience to pay for abortions. Abandoning this compromise in a time of national emergency serves only to divide people in the very moment we should be united. The recently passed America Rescue Plan Act appropriates $450 billion to state and local governments and health-related agencies with no restrictions on how much of that could go to abortion or abortion-related services.
Stimulus checks are already being issued in the amount of $1,400 per person for those who qualify under certain criteria in the legislation.
“I Shall Give Half” is a campaign to invite you to give half of your stimulus check to a pro-life organization of your choice. We recognize that not all can afford to give a sum of $700. Some may be able to afford very little, and others may be able to give the total amount of $1,400. Whatever gift can be given, a gift of some amount is encouraged to be donated as a charitable almsgiving to protect the lives of our unborn children.
You can send your donation to National Right to Life, 1446 Duke Street, Alexandria, Va., 22314 or you can donate online to National Right to Life’s Education Fund at www.nrlc.org/donate/. Feel free to donate to any pro-life organization you feel called to support.
This I Shall Give Half campaign is inspired by the Gospel story of Zacchaeus’ words to Jesus – a commitment to follow, and our Lord’s response to him.
Zacchaeus said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…” – Luke 19: 8-10
The conversion of Zacchaeus begins with simple curiosity. St. Luke tells us that when Zacchaeus learned that Jesus was coming to his town of Jericho, he very much wanted to see Him. He must have heard of Jesus. Perhaps he had heard accounts of His miracles, so that like many others, he wondered: “Who is this about whom I hear such things?” (Luke 9:9). Perhaps it was more personal for Zacchaeus. Perhaps, in addition to having heard about His miracles, he had heard that Jesus associated with tax collectors. Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. Perhaps Zacchaeus asked himself: What kind of rabbi is this Jesus? Can a man attested by God, a righteous man, draw near to sinners? Is there, after all, hope for me?
This is the first point that makes the story of Zacchaeus meaningful for us. Perhaps we have lived with faith and hope for so long that we have forgotten what it is like to live without them! Perhaps it has been a long time since we wondered, “Is there, after all, hope for me? Does God, who is love, really want to come into my life? What about my sins?” Lent is the perfect liturgical season for us to reflect anew on this.
Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus, but there is a large crowd. Many others want to see Him, too. Zacchaeus was not the only one who had heard of Jesus and wanted to see Him.
St. Luke tells us that a certain drama builds because Zacchaeus was not very tall, and the crowd prevented him from getting a look. He climbed a sycamore tree so he could have an unimpaired view. When Jesus came to that spot, He looked up and called Zacchaeus by name: “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5) Yes, Zacchaeus has done his best to get a peek at Jesus, but Jesus is the one in control. He is the one who takes the initiative, which, we will see, is ordered to Zacchaeus coming to faith and salvation.
Here is a second point at which the story of Zacchaeus and our own stories intersect: God superabundantly fulfills desires.
When we pray, we often ask for too little, like the Samaritan woman who would have been content with the gift of miraculous water so that she no longer had to return to the well every day. Jesus gives her not only that, but also the living water of faith and eternal life! For Zacchaeus, what a difference between simply getting a glimpse of Jesus and extending hospitality to Him. So, we see the irony. On that day in Jericho, everyone longed to get a look at Jesus, but only one – one who everyone considered a sinner – had the privilege of Jesus coming under his roof.
Nothing Jesus did provoked the question about who He is more than His acts of forgiving sins. The real question about Jesus is: “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:49). That this is in play here is evident from the reaction of those who witnessed Jesus entering Zacchaeus’ house: “And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ ” (Luke 19:7)
In the Bible, this grumbling is a sign of lack of faith. People grumble when they disapprove of the way God is conducting His business. For example, in a similar context: “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them’ ” (Luke 15:1–2). Jesus responds to this murmuring by telling these three parables: the shepherd who looks for and finds his lost sheep; the woman who finds her lost coin; and the father who finds his lost son (the prodigal son).
Zacchaeus responds to Jesus with this declaration: “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” (Luke 19:8)
The conversion of Zacchaeus is Jesus’ response – His apologia, His justification for His actions – to those who grumble. And this is the third and most important lesson for the I Shall Give Half campaign. Meeting Jesus puts Zacchaeus’ life in order. Jesus gives Him a new perspective – God’s own perspective. He re-evaluates his priorities. In meeting Zacchaeus’ need for God’s love, Jesus unleashes His capacity to love others, especially the poor: “the half of my goods I give to the poor.”
Zacchaeus teaches us how to respond when Jesus “comes under our roof” – the roof of our churches in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the roof of our hearts in Holy Communion. Jesus comes to us in our need and in our poverty for His love, and this bears the fruit of making us attentive to the needs of others. Love for the poor is the great sign of having encountered God’s love for us in our poverty.
The Catholic Church in the United States has a proud record of love for the unborn. It is one of the brightest lights bearing witness to our encounter with Christ, first in Baptism and then regularly in Holy Communion, during which we confess our unworthiness that He should come under our roof.
The I Shall Give Half campaign is an opportunity for us to coordinate our efforts in loving the poorest and most vulnerable among us – the unborn – and to bear witness to the new perspective of our faith, to God’s own hierarchy of values. Let us remember that Jesus takes personally every act of love that we show to those who are truly the least of those to whom He has united Himself: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).
The I Shall Give Half campaign is a great opportunity for Catholics in Idaho to contribute to making that light shine even brighter as a sign to the world that Jesus’ words about Zacchaeus echo through the centuries. That is the fourth point of the relevance of the story of Zacchaeus for us today: “Today salvation has come to this house.” (Luke 19:9).
Finally, the Holy Spirit always provides for the needs of the Church. He bestows gifts that are suited to address those needs. He has been very generous in moving the hearts of men and women to do what they can to protect the lives of the unborn threatened by abortion. While all are called to the pro-life apostolate through prayer and bearing witness to our faith in the God of life, some among us receive a further call to be on the frontlines in the war between the culture of life and the culture of death. We can help those on the frontlines be more effective in their mission by providing financial support.
The spirit of the I Shall Give Half campaign is really the Holy Spirit, Who appeals to those who do not need all of their stimulus money to donate what they can to support those for whom the same Holy Spirit is prompting to wage the battle for life on many fronts.