Good morning, The Lord be with you!
For those of you who do not know me, my Name is Oscar De Leon. I have been a parishioner at Saint Mathew’s for about 15 years.
Saint Matthew’s is the only church, and religion for that matter, that I felt like I belong.
I am 58 years old, and for most of my life I was searching for a place where God’s message was one of love, belonging and compassion instead of condemnation and eternal suffering.
I would like to talk to you today about giving… but giving because you are able to balance your life experiences and, in your thankfulness, you balance your giving of treasure, time and talent.
Like many of you, I have had good times, actually, great times! and bad times, I have had moments of sheer desperation not knowing where the next payment for my rent would come from.
I am not proud to admit that I have never been a good administrator of my finances. You see I lived in New Your city during the AIDS pandemic. I would go to several funerals in one week, so I never though I was going to live long… so, every fun activity, concert, dinner, trip, show, record, movie, collectibles, gift I wanted to make, they all had precedent over my responsibilities.
And so, my life was never in order when it came to my finances.
I met great people along the way, that I know God put in my path to teach me about abundance and the promise that he would be watching over me throughout my journey.
As I look back, I realized that the basic needs I needed to thrive were always met. I never went hungry, I was never homeless, I was clothed… even looking back as when I was in High School, all my father was able to provide for the school semester was 2 pants and 3 shirts…
That still was more that many other had.
Through the years I saw abundance like nothing I could ever dream of…
I also did not know how to handle it…
At one point I thought I bought a house in Puerto Rico. It was always my dream to have a house to go back to, something that was mine… and it was my cousin who was selling it…. So, I gave him the 20K…and he kept the house… or my friend from college that borrowed 40K (from my 401K) … and never paid me back.
Lost a cousin and a friend… and 60K!
Lessons learned… expensive lessons, but all along I was missing what was really happening… I was also providing time and support to friends and family members; I was learning about what really mattered. I was learning that money was not all.
I was learning how, in the middle of that desperation when someone you trust betrays you…. God does not… God did not.
Every time I looked back, my basic needs were met… my journey was enriched with the lessons to share and most importantly with multiple ways to give back.
As part of Saint Matthew’s, I learned about the importance and necessity of sharing with God’s community your treasures, your time, and your talents. I was not very clear about how these three gifts are always revolving and balancing themselves. I started to share of my treasures, and many times it was a struggle but it was always fair. I was not understanding that in my time and talents I was also giving, contributing.
Today the percentage I give, I balanced with my contribution to causes that are in my everyday life, to ways God is guiding me to share his glory. And I have been, multiple times, a recipient of his great mercy and glory.
I would like to share with you what happened to me about six years ago.
I had retired after 26 years of service and…and within 4 years,
I had exhausted all my retiring funds…
I had lost a lot of money, as you I told you before.
I was baking cakes and doing catering to make ends meet, I was unemployed.
One of those desperate days, I received an email from a company that was offering me $400 per week to have my car wrapped with and advertising banner.
The offer seemed legit.
I filled out a questionnaire, send in my application and they accept it!!! I was so happy. $400 for driving around seemed like a no brainer.
They let me know that they will FedEx a check to my house so I can pay the company that will wrap my car.
The check came.
a real check,
over 3 thousand dollars.
The instructions were clear. “Call us a soon as you receive this check”.
The gentleman explained that they will pay me the first 3 weeks of advertisement but that I had to pay the company that was doing the wrapping…
He insisted that I would deposit the check in my checking account, go the next day and retrieve the money for the company that was doing the wrapping and keep the $1200.00 that were mine.
Oh, what a joy!!!
To make this more special, the next day was Ash Wednesday.
My dear friend Cindy Bateman, called and ask if I was going to Ash Wednesday service, I said, joyous! YES!
She asked if I wanted to go to lunch with her after the service. I said yes but, “we need to be close to my bank, because I had to do a very important transaction”; and she agreed.
We went to a restaurant close to my bank… and as God planned it, I could not contain my excitement so I share with Cindy my new exiting found venture as a walking advertiser…
As I am explaining the details of this opportunity to Cindy, she seemed more interested on her cell phone than on what I was saying until I started to notice her face changing shapes and suddenly looking at me with that “Oh you poor thing, bless you heart” kind of look.
She simply showed me the phone.
Every step I had gone through was written there…
One of the latest scams… people will get the money out of their account and deposit it to the supposed wrapping company’s account. By the time the check bounced… you were already wrapped in an over drawn account that you were responsible for… I cried!!!!
Since then, I was blessed, to find a new path… got the opportunity to become a medical interpreter and now I do the best job I have ever had. And while my time is not as free as it once was, I do not struggle much to share my treasures.
The Lord works in mysterious ways; I am proof. Listen, pay attention to the lessons. Be thankful and with joy balance your gifts, your treasure, time, and talent.
God bless you.
Oscar De Leon